Staff, volunteers implement 20 projects in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) wrapped up its 2023 stewardship season earlier this fall, completing 20 projects across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
The NFCT’s stewardship crew consists of a stewardship director, field coordinator, paid interns and dozens of volunteers. Projects are carried out in collaboration with state environmental agencies, municipalities, foundations and corporate partners, as well as private landowners. The NFCT’s work is implemented along the woods and waters of the 740-mile canoe trail that begins in Old Forge, NY, and ends in Fort Kent, Maine. In recent years, the NFCT has expanded its stewardship program to include nearby waterways.
“We’re incredibly proud of our staff, volunteers and partners for their ongoing commitment to enhancing safe and environmentally responsible access to the canoe trail,” said NFCT Executive Director Karrie Thomas. “Stewardship is the heart and soul of our work. We are a lean organization with a small professional staff; taking on work of this scale requires collective buy-in from all of our stakeholders across the Northeast. We are grateful for the support we receive and look forward to next season.”
A total of 43 volunteers joined the NFCT on seven work trips this year, and over 35 volunteer Waterway Stewards maintained sections along the route independently by clearing debris, placing seasonal infrastructure and informing staff when bigger problems arose.
In New York, work crews constructed 35 stone steps at a paddlers’ campsite on Lake Champlain’s Valcour Island. Nearby in the Adirondacks, bridging was repaired and drainage was improved by installing stone turnpike along the historic Indian Carry. Privies and docks at four Upper Saranac Lake campsites were also replaced. Additionally, two boat lock stations were constructed and installed at critical NFCT access points in the village of Saranac Lake.
In Vermont, the NFCT installed stone steps at two river access trails along the Passumpsic River in the town of Lyndon, and constructed stone and timber steps at the East Richford Access on the Upper Missisquoi River.
The NFCT carried out multiple projects in New Hampshire in 2023. In the community of Dalton, crews installed access steps and a privy at a primitive campsite along the Moore Reservoir. On the Connecticut River in the village of Woodsville, new stone steps were installed at the Woodsville Community Ball Fields Access. Three access points along the Androscoggin River in the town of Gorham were enhanced, featuring a floating dock and stone steps.
Finally, in Maine, the NFCT continued maintenance to the Rapid River Carry, including repairing bog bridging, adding stone-lined fords to protect water quality, replacing a bridge and completing a trail reroute around a rocky section. Two new campsites were established on Moosehead Lake, and contractors reconstructed the historic Northeast Carry, adding a gravel base and a gate to limit damage from spring motor vehicle use. In anticipation of impending maintenance needs, NFCT worked with Allagash Wilderness Waterway Rangers to conduct a full stewardship assessment of the resource. The NFCT looks forward to supporting the implementation of these findings in the near future.
The 2023 season didn’t come without its challenges. Family and medical emergencies left the crew short-staffed at times, and major flooding across New England disrupted work in July. The NFCT was able to pivot and help with river clean-ups in Vermont following the storms.
“Nearly twenty years of working along rivers has taught me to be observant, flexible, patient and humble,” said NFCT Stewardship Director Noah Pollock. “Our ability to complete this work despite unforeseen disruptions is a testament to the strength and resilience of our canoe trail and the community behind it. I have learned that strength and resilience is rooted in respecting nature, embracing teamwork and building community. We thank all who believe in and support our vision.”
The NFCT extends its thanks to the volunteers who joined its professional team this year, who include the following: Mark Blackwood, Henry Blanchette, Katy Bland, Jim Bourne, Lorraine Brink, Cassandra Burdyshaw, William Conner, Allison Courtemanche, Quena Crain, Margaret Curtis, William Eiseman, Anne Eiseman, Jim Farrell, Chris Fithian, John Freeman, Paul Glasscock, Gary Golden, Rachel Gordon, Kristen Grant, Worth Gretter, Eric Hanson, Martin Hatcher, Steve Hern, Tim Hille, Jaci Kessler, Griff Keating, Marshall Kim, Chip Kimball, David Kocieniewski, Kelly Lagrander, Bob Lagrander, Delia Lagrander, Teddy Lagrander, Bruce Lindwall, Laurie Lindwall, Stephen Magneson, Sara Mele, Pamela Mitchell, James Mudie, Jim Noland, Emily Pettit, Bethany Poulin, Peter Roderick and Bryon Rosenberg.
The NFCT is also grateful to the public and private partners who supported the 2023 stewardship season: Lake Champlain Basin Program, Athletic Brewing, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Great River Hydro, Maine Outdoor Heritage Foundation, Quimby Family Foundation, Maine Bureau of Public Lands, Maine Recreational Trails Program, Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund, Upper Missisquoi Wild and Scenic Committee, Town of Gorham, Vermont River Conservancy, The Davis Fund, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, Northern Waters Outfitters, Huber Resources and Maine Appalachian Mountain Club.
As the only dedicated water trail crew in the Northeast, the NFCT’s stewardship crew specializes in projects at the interface of land and water, including campsites, portage trails and access points. To learn more about the NFCT’s stewardship work, contact Noah Pollock at noah@northernforestcanoetrail.
For more information about the NFCT, visit northernforestcanoetrail.org.
Photo at top: Staff and volunteers take a well-earned break after constructing new stone steps to a campsite on Lake Champlain’s Valcour Island.