Local Waters to Host Regional Training of River Stewards

Waitsfield, Vt.   This week in Highgate and on the Missisquoi River, a group of ten college students and recent graduates from around the nation are participating in a four-day leadership training led by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT).  Upon completion of the training, the participants in the NFCT summer intern program will fan out to New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Québec and Maine to collect data, and maintain and steward the water trail.

NFCT is a 740-mile water trail, stretching from Old Forge, New York to Fort Kent, Maine.  In Vermont the Trail includes Lake Champlain, the Missisquoi river, Lake Memphremagog, and the Clyde and Nulhegan rivers. 

Summer interns, four of whom are students at the University of Vermont, will GPS campsites and boat launches, improve access, and restore damaged riverbanks along the length of the Trail.  Intern Nicole Grohoski from Winooski, is the first woman to paddle the entire Trail in 2006.

"This is our third year kicking off the summer work season in Highgate," says Walter Opuszynski, Trail Director for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. "The town offices and the staff at the Mississquoi National Wildlife Refuge have been very supportive, and this section of the Trail has so much to offer residents and visitors alike," he continued. "We are also excited by the participation of staff from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources who are sharing a wealth of knowledge about Vermont’s rivers and waterways."

Staff from the state agency will provide classroom and field instruction in issues ranging from floodplains and wetlands to identification and mitigation of invasive species.  In addition to gaining an understanding of the landscapes and waters in which they will be working, the participants will hear of the history of the Trail and its Native American roots. 

Rob Scharges, co-owner of canoe manufacturer Vermont Canoe, is donating his time and expertise to teach safety and whitewater paddling skills.  "It is important to foster an appreciation of the natural world in the younger generation and canoeing is a perfect entry for many.  It’s what my dad did for me as a young man and if I can assist these young people in gaining that appreciation and the enjoyment of being on the water, than I can think of no better use of my time".

The training runs from Tuesday, June 14 through Friday, June 17.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail follows historic native paddling routes on the rivers and lakes of northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and the province of Québec. The organization celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2010 and is the longest inland water trail in the United States.  NFCT serves as an inspiration for those with a passion for canoeing and kayaking and catalyzes rural economic growth by developing nature and heritage tourism opportunities in partnership with local small businesses.  Most paddlers approach the trail in sections, enjoying the wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, and community events that can be enjoyed in the various rural destinations along the route.  NFCT’s 13-map series, Guidebook, and online Trip Planner support paddlers of all abilities to craft a journey that fits their interests.

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The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a 740-mile inland paddling trail tracing historic travel routes across New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire, and Maine. Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Inc. is internationally regarded as the preeminent water trail organization in North America, and connects people to the Trail’s natural environment, human heritage, and contemporary communities by stewarding, promoting, and providing access to canoe and kayak experiences along this route.

To learn more about paddling the NFCT, to become a member, and to purchase a guidebook and maps, visit http://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/ or call 802-496-2285.

Media Contact:
Kevin Mack, Director of Partnerships and Marketing
Northern Forest Canoe Trail
(802) 535-5855, [email protected]

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