NFCT Stewardship Season Underway

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s 2023 stewardship program is underway.

The NFCT’s stewardship crew consists of professional staff, local volunteers and paid seasonal interns who work across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine to maintain and enhance outdoor infrastructure with a focus on access and environmental protection. The 740-mile waterway trail that begins in Old Forge, NY, and ends in Fort Kent, Maine, has over 60 portage trails, dozens of publicly and privately owned campsites, and hundreds of access points used by paddlers, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“Our stewardship work aims to make the woods and waters of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail as safe and accessible as possible for users while also preventing against environmental degradation — our goal is to help people of all backgrounds and skill levels access the wild and scenic places that make our communities so special, while also ensuring that future generations can enjoy them forever,” said Noah Pollock, the NFCT’s stewardship director.

This year’s professional stewardship crew consists of Pollock, Field Coordinator Will Lockwood, and interns Ethan Israel, Jonah Yaffe and Kate Wimberly. The team is joined weekly by local volunteers in the communities where work takes place.

Work began the week of June 12 with projects in Dalton and Woodsville, both in New Hampshire. In Dalton, crews worked in partnership with Great River Hydro to enhance a campsite near the reservoir on the Ammonoosuc River. The site now has two new two-bin privies and a set of eight crib stairs leading from the water to the campsite. In Woodsville, the NFCT partnered with the town to upgrade an access point on the Connecticut River by adding stone steps, protecting against erosion to the river bank.

The full slate of work began the week of June 19, with a series of projects in New York. The crew returned to Valcour Island to continue work that began last summer: enhancing campsites with new privies and timber steps. The week of June 26 the crew arrived in Saranac Lake, where the NFCT rehabilitated the historic Indian Carry portage connecting the Raquette and Saranac rivers, and made improvements to campsites on Upper Saranac Lake. The team also completed a project in partnership with the village of Saranac Lake and Franklin County to install new boat racks on Lake Flower.

The crew now heads to Vermont, where they will install new stone steps at the Passumpsic River Community Access and on the North Branch of the Winooski River in East Montpelier. On the Missisquoi River, near the Canadian border, the NFCT will add a new access point. The crew will then construct and install a privy at the popular Bolton Falls swimming hole on the Winooski River.

In July, additional work will be carried out in Woodsville, NH, with crews installing a new dock and stone steps, and cleaning up an access trail to open up new paddling opportunities along a beautiful yet under-appreciated stretch of the Androscoggin River.

Finally, the NFCT heads to Maine to continue a multi-year effort to enhance access and protect against environmental degradation along several stretches of the canoe trail. The crew will replace failing bridges, resurface rock sections, establish a new take-out and improve signage on the Rapid River Carry connecting Umbagog Lake and the Rangeley Lakes region. On Moosehead Lake, the NFCT will establish two new campsites on Moosehead Lake’s western shore, complete with new tent pads, privies, signage and tables.

In addition to infrastructure work, the NFCT will work with community partners in Vermont to develop landowner permission for improved access to Otter Creek, as well as new maps for planning and navigation. In Maine, the team will conduct a stewardship needs assessment of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

To learn more about the NFCT’s stewardship work, including volunteer opportunities, contact Noah Pollock at [email protected].