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EDITORIAL: A Message of Thanks to the Friends of the Winooski a and to Friends of Those Valued Friends


by Nat Frothingham

Over the past few weeks with ever-growing intensity, The Bridge has been working in partnership with Ann Smith and other stalwarts at the not-for-profit Friends of the Winooski River organization to put together the spread you now have in your hands — celebrating a theme of water and rivers and community solidarity.

Ann Smith, who is executive director of Friends of the Winooski River, through her writing, has proved a lot of the heavy lifting. She describes the Winooski River and its far-flung watershed, she discusses some of the threats to the river’s watershed and she goes ahead to show what we can do to cut down on pollution by planting in the floodplains and by making improvements in developed land along the Winooski and its tributaries.

Thanks also to Roy Schiff and Jessica Loutsos who wrote an appealing piece about our valuable but often overlooked floodplains.

Nor do I want to forget three or four other people. First, Margaret Blanchard who serves on the board of directors of The Bridge and who first asked us to work with Friends of the Winooski in creating this special issue of The Bridge to celebrate water, the Winooski River and September as “Water Awareness Month.”

And I can’t imagine any issue of The Bridge devoted to water that would fail to acknowledge Dot Helling or Paul and Melissa Perley.

Dot Helling has a wide circle of friends in Montpelier and many of us still remember and are grateful to her for making the Planetary Run around the world to draw attention to water and to safe, clean drinking water.

Back to Paul and Melissa — because of their efforts and the hard work of volunteers that joined them in creating the Vermont Clean Water Coalition, we are aware of need to take much more active step to protect Montpelier’s drinking water supplies not just in Berlin Pond but in Lake Champlain, and as we have discovered over the past year or so, in Bennington County where (drinking water) wells that were once thought safe have been contaminated by industrial run-off contaminants.

At a larger and longer reach let’s pay greater attention to the harmful impacts of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) in states across the nation where this activity has been permitted. Why have federal and state agencies with serious responsibilities to the general public flashed a green light that allowed fracking?

We have been here before: short-term gain and long-term loss. Yes, we can pump water and chemicals under high pressure deep into the earth and drive out oil and natural gas. But at what cost to water quality, at what cost to the stability of soil and rock formations, at what cost to the integrity of community life?

As part of the September celebration of water along the Winooski River Watershed, Friends of the Winooski River are raising money to support their many activities: their work in river clean-up; their plantings along river edges and on floodplains, their water quality monitoring; their assessment of stormwater systems and their stormwater mitigation projects.

This year’s fundraising campaign, called the “Four Rivers Fund” to benefit Friends of the Winooski will be kicked off on Saturday, September 10, when volunteers and friends of the Winooski River hold the annual River Clean-Up. (Please gather at Montpelier City Hall at 8:30 a.m. on that day.)

Friends of the Winooski have created a crowdfund campaign for the Four Rivers Fund using the website Razoo. Individuals and businesses can pledge their support using the following link: https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Four-Rivers-Fund-1 or by going to www.razoo.com and searching “Four Rivers Fund.”

Please contribute to the Four Rivers Fund.

And please join these local and state businesses that have already made a donation to the Fund: Berlin Veterinary Clinic, Community National Bank, Fecteau Homes, Green Mountain Power, Lajeunesse Interiors, rb Technologies, Vermont Association of Realtors, Vermont Mutual Insurance Company, Vermont State Employees Credit Union and Winooski Hydroelectric.