Celebrating Our Waterways

By Elle O’Casey

Late August is the time when many of us head to our favorite swimming holes and lakes, hungry to get out on the water and enjoy it while we can. It may be a distant thought to many of us paddling or swimming on Vermont’s ponds, lakes, and rivers, but nearly 45 years ago, a piece of legislation changed US water for the better. In 1972, the Clean Water Act was passed and over time has been hailed as one of the most influential environmental laws in US history. While we as a country have come a long way since the fires on the Cuyahoga River, much is still left to be done when it comes to cleaning up our waterways.

Vermonters, known for ingenuity and a sustainable land ethic recognized the need for action and today, Vermont is positioned as a national leader in cleaning up state waterways. One way the state has taken action to decrease water pollution was the passage of Act 64 in 2015. One element of Act 64 includes agricultural reform, an important component considering that 38% of phosphorus pollution found in Lake Champlain in 2015 came from agriculture and another 18% came from streambank erosion. Act 64’s agricultural reform created a set of required agricultural practices (RAPs) for farms, intended to ‘reduce agriculture’s impact on state waterways’.

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August 20-26 is Clean Water Week in Vermont. The week both celebrates Vermont’s waterways and raises awareness for ongoing efforts to clean up water in Vermont. The theme is “All In”, emphasizing the multi-sector approach. In a recent interview with VPR, Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Emily Boedecker offered examples of ways a variety sectors including agriculture and transportation are leveraging public and private funds to engage in preventative measures and cleanup restoration. Over the next two years, Boedecker projected a doubling of investment toward this prevention and cleanup through “a mix of incentive and obligation” including grant funding and permitting to draw on public and private funds, epitomizing the theme of “All In”.

Here are a few Clean Water Week events you won’t want to miss, including a number of activities at Silver Lake State Park in Barnard. Find even more events here.

Stream Ecology
Thursday, August 24, 2017 – 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Host: Vermont State Parks, Jamaica State Park
Location: 48 Salmon Hole Lane, Jamaica, VT 05343
Duration: 1hr-2hr. Starting at noon (flexible start time based on crowd at the river)
Type of Activity: Species Identification, Catch and Release
Audience: Ages 3yrs/o and up
Goal: To understand who lives in the West River, Habitat management, food cycle, the importance of clean water, and water conservation. heme: Macro-invertebrates play an important role in stream ecology.
Pre-registration required: No
Cost: Free (event is free, park admission fee required)

Arts and Crafts
Thursday, August 24, 2017 – 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Host: Vermont State Parks, Silver Lake State Park
Location: 20 State Park Beach Rd, Barnard, VT 05031
Event Description: Create a beaver puppet.
Pre-registration required: No
Cost: Free (event is free, park admission fee required)

Toad Abode
Thursday, August 24, 2017 – 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Host: Vermont State Parks, Silver Lake State Park
Location: 20 State Park Beach Rd, Barnard, VT 05031
Event Description: Create a toad house.
Pre-registration required: No
Cost: Free (event is free, park admission fee required)

Otter Paddle
Thursday, August 24, 2017 – 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Host: Vermont State Parks, Silver Lake State Park
Location: 20 State Park Beach Rd, Barnard, VT 05031
Event Description: Enjoy a free kayak on the lake while learning about otters.
Pre-registration required: Yes, Space limited, sign up @ nature center
Cost: Free (event is free, park admission fee required)

Let’s Make a Lake
Friday, August 25, 2017 – 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Host: Vermont State Parks, Silver Lake State Park
Location: 20 State Park Beach Rd, Barnard, VT 05031
Event Description: Work together to make a model lake.
Pre-registration required: No
Cost: Free (event is free, park admission fee required)

Plein Air Farmstead Conservation Painting
Saturday, August 26, 2017 – 9:00am to 12:00pm
Host: Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District
Location: Maxwell Neighborhood Farm, 213 Maxwell Road, Coventry, Vermont
Event Description: Orleans County NRCD is collaborating with local farmers, Plein Air Northeast Kingdom, the Memphremagog Watershed Association (MWA) and Memphremagog Arts Collaborative (MAC) to offer a unique artistic experience highlighting agricultural conservation practices in Orleans County. This Plein Air session will be hosted by the Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm in Coventry, Vermont and is one in a series of four sessions hosted by farms in Orleans County this summer.
Pre-registration required: No
Cost: $5

Nature Walk
Saturday, August 26, 2017 – 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Host: Vermont State Parks, Silver Lake State Park
Location: 20 State Park Beach Rd, Barnard, VT 05031
Event Description: Walk along the lake and discover it’s features.
Pre-registration required: No
Cost: Free (event is free, park admission fee required)

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