Sunday, March 17, 2024

NFCT expands stewardship staff, offers new volunteer opportunities 

A work crew builds docks


New staff will support projects in four states; nine volunteer work trips planned

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) has announced its stewardship programming for the 2024 season, which will be supported by a growing professional staff and provide opportunities for as many as 50 volunteers to help steward the waterways along the trail.

The NFCT is a nonprofit organization that stewards a 740-mile water trail that weaves through New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine. Projects this year span from the Saranac Lakes in the Adirondacks to Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway. With an ambitious slate of work scheduled, the NFCT has hired an assistant trail director and an Allagash crew leader to support its work.

“We’re always amazed by what we’re able to accomplish with a tight professional crew and our dedicated volunteers,” said Noah Pollock, the NFCT’s stewardship director. “In reviewing our goals for this year and in discussions with land managers, it became clear that we needed to grow our team to meet the identified stewardship needs.”

New staff

Joining the NFCT’s staff are Alex Delhagen and Ethan Israel. Delhagen steps into the role of Assistant Trail Director, helping to design and implement projects, oversee the NFCT’s roving trail crew, and assist with community events, with a focus on the Western sections of the canoe trail — New York, Vermont and Quebec. As the organization’s Allagash Crew Leader, Israel will be responsible for overseeing three stewardship interns and community volunteers as the NFCT implements a full season of projects along the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine.

Delhagen, originally from Vermont, is a lifelong paddler and environmental advocate, who officially joined the NFCT’s staff in 2023 after working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute; he also volunteered for a number of conservation groups in South America.

“I’m a firm believer in the importance of connecting humans with the natural world,” Delhagen said. “Outdoor recreation can fortify those connections where they already exist and reestablish those connections where they’ve faded. It’s a privilege to work with the NFCT’s staff and volunteers to facilitate more high-quality, accessible and sustainable paddling opportunities across the Northern Forest region.”

Israel re-joins the NFCT’s stewardship team just months after completing his internship in 2023. Originally from Randolph, NJ, he is a student at the University of Vermont and is an avid biker, paddler, backpacker and boat builder.

“My season as a stewardship intern was one of the most enriching experiences of my life,” Israel said. “I’m excited to return this year and put the skills I learned to work in the Allagash.”

The NFCT has scheduled a series of waterway work trips that will offer individuals a chance to join the stewardship crews for a weekend, including meals, paddling, and exploration. Each trip begins on Friday evening — Thursday for the Allagash trips — and finishes on Sunday afternoon.

This year’s schedule includes:

  • June 20-23, Scofield Cove, Churchill Lake, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Maine: Stabilizing an eroding bank plantings and rocks, installing stone steps and transplant trees at one of the finest campsites along the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

  • June 21-23, Lower Locks Carry, NY: Completing maintenance along the Saranac River’s Lower Locks Carry Trail leading into Oseetah Lake. Work will involve replacing timber steps and signage, and leveling a steep and slippery section of the trail.

  • June 29 to July 1, Lake Champlain’s Valcour Island Campsites, NY:Completing maintenance at  campsites and foot paths on Valcour Island, one of the most scenic and historic islands in the lake. Work will primarily focus on replacing a rotting boardwalk.

  • July 4-7, Scofield Point, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, ME: Rebuilding stone steps, upgrade a privy to a moldering design, level tent pads and fix a stone retaining wall at a spacious campsite on a prominent point.

  • July 5-7, Five Fauls Lean-to, NY: Replacing bog bridging and constructing a floating dock at the NFCT Five Fauls Lean-to on the Saranac River, just downstream of Saranac Lake.

  • July 12-15, Missisquoi Paddle-Pedal and Upper Missisquoi Access, VT.: Installing stone steps at a new access to the Missisquoi River in the town of Berkshire, and helping behind the scenes at the Missisquoi Paddle-Pedal, a popular community event in northern Vermont.

  • July 18-21, Jaws Campsite, Churchill Lake, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, ME: Improving access paths, tent pads and improve accessibility at this deservingly popular campsite along the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

  • July 19-21, Cedar Stump Campsite and the Rapid River Carry, ME: Upgrading an existing privy to a composting design at the Cedar Stump Campsite and complete maintenance along the historic and remote Rapid River Carry, which provides a connection between Umbagog Lake and the Rangeley Lakes region.

  • July 26-28, Moosehead Lake “Little W” Campsites, Maine: Help establish two new campsites on beautiful Moosehead Lake’s northern shore by clearing downed trees, constructing tent pads, assembling privies, signage and tables.

Space is limited for each trip. To learn more or sign up, visit

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

For more information about the NFCT, visit

About the Northern Forest Canoe Trail:

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a nonprofit organization that maintains and promotes the 740-mile water trail that runs from Old Forge, NY, to Fort Kent, Maine, and connects New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine. The trail showcases the mix of landscapes and communities currently lining the traditional routes used by Indigenous peoples, settlers and guides. It is the longest in-land water trail in the nation and consists of 23 rivers and streams, 59 lakes and ponds, 45 communities and 65 portages. To learn more, visit

Photo at top: A Northern Forest Canoe Trail work crew builds docks for a project along the Androscoggin River in Gorham, NH, in the summer of 2023. Photo provided by NFCT.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

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