GLORIA CRISTELLI serves as acting president of the Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance (SeVWA). This piece is adapted from testimony that she gave in March to the Vermont Senate Committee on Economic Development, General & Military Affairs.
Originally published in The Commons issue #150 (Wednesday, May 2, 2012).
As a member of the Selectboard, I got hassled somewhat for initiating the endeavor but not cleaning up the debris (though I blamed Governor Shumlin). Finally, I called in a rubbish removal company and pitched in with actual debris removal along with just a few others.
When the bill came in, we had no one offering to pay for it, so the Town of Newfane paid the bill, even though several people called the governor’s office. No money was forthcoming to do what Governor Shumlin had asked us Vermonters to do. We will willingly clean up the rivers and streams, but we don’t have the resources to get the debris carted away.
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Our organization also sees the need to beautify the roadsides. We need money to purchase and then plant trees and shrubs. We also desperately need to get rid of tree debris.
SeVWA understands that we do not want every branch and twig removed. We need fish habitat; we need a way for the rivers to meander, but the 12-foot tree-debris piles lacing the banks are essentially ugly and won’t attract tourists or enable residents to enjoy their views from their front porches.
And in April, SeVWA celebrated its first decade of service with a River Resources Rendezvous in Williamsville Hall — the same hall where we in Newfane opened a Help Center right after Irene, where we met to eat together and share information.
We invite you to get in touch with us to find out how you can be involved in protecting the health of the watersheds of the West River, Saxtons River, Williams River, Whetstone Brook, and all the streams that feed in to them.
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