Richmond Conservation News
Delayed by the Deluges
Dam Replacement Put Off
As this photo shows, July's devestating rainfalls sent a lot of water cascading over Gillett Pond's aged and deteriorating dam. Otherwise, it had no major impact -- except for being a key factor in delaying its replacement until spring.
Crews had begun work on the new dam in July when the rains came. But they had to be diverted to other, emergency projects repairing washed-out roads and bridges across the state.
By the time the crews could return to the Pond, we'd lost a good chunk of the time that we would need in the early fall to guarantee that the dam's concrete would have the weeks of above-freezing temperatures required for it to properly cure to full strength.
So in early September we made the tough but necessary decision to put the project on hold until spring. We'll be consulting with the State's Dam Safety team to find the earliest date when work could start. We'll need to wait for the spring melt to subside enough to allow a temporary dam to be installed so construction on the permanent dam can begin.
We still need your help
Here's the silver lining in the delay: It buys us time to raise the funds needed to finish the total project.
Thanks to 10 years of incredible community support, we've raised over $1.1 million to acquire the Pond and build the dam. As 2024 begins, we're less than $19,000 away from being able to complete the dam, make the Pond even more enjoyable for its many visitors, including with a four-season parking area the Pond has never had. We'll install a kiosk, benches and other amentitie. And we'll be able to put aside enough funds to cover the costs of maintaining the dam and protecting the Pond long into the future.
Please help put this important project over the top. There are many ways to help. You can donate by:
-- Using our online form, or, by
-- Mailing a check directly to us at the address below and payable to "Richmond Land Trust", with “Gillett Pond” written in the memo area, or
-- Reach out to our Treasurer, Jonathan Smith, through our Contact Form or by getting in touch with any of our other board members with questions or about other arrangements.
If you're 72 or over, you might also be able to land a major tax deduction ot available to others by making a donation from your retirement fund. Ask your financial advisor for details.
Huge thanks to everyone who has got us this far. And endless thanks as well to those who'll finish this campaign to save the Pond and ensure its survival for generations to come!
The prospects for saving Gillett Pond when the Federal Government made a big splash in our fundraising pool with a $250,000 grant obtained through the outstanding efforts of Senator Leahy and his staff before he left office.
That support, combined with a second contribution from the Richmond Conservation Reserve Fund, enabled us to put the project out for bids and hire a contractor to start work on the dam itself.
Uncle Sam Steps Up to
Save Gillett Pond!
Warming Up Winter for Local Families
Clearing the dam construction site yielded a truckload of logs we donated to Wood4Good, an area non-profit that provides heating assistance to families in need.
So far this year they've given away over 140 loads of wood to Vermont families, including to some in Richmond and Huntington. If you know someone who might need heating assistance this winter, encourage them to contact the organization at wood4goodvt.org. (And thanks to Bob Low for the photo!)
Middle-Schoolers Pitch in
to Protect a Preserve
For decades, the towering ferns and other plants and trees that make for such a striking -- and rare -- landscape at RLT's Beeken Rivershore Preserve have been under assault.
Highly aggressive, non-native plants are doing their best to elbow out the forest's ostrich ferns and silver maple trees -- along with the dozens of other native species that make the place so special.
Meanwhile, the Winooski River gnaws at its banks, as rivers will, threatening parts of the Rivershore Trail and even Cochran Road.
However, in recent years help has arrived when school buses unload scores of kids ready for hands-on lessons in ecology, land conservation and environmental stewardship.
Stopping the spread
Some 15 years ago, wildlife biologist Jon Kart volunteered his time to launch the Great Richmond Root-Out, aiming to control the spread of non-native plants throughout town. That's included bringing science students from Camel's Hump Middle School to the Preserve and other conserved lands in town not only to learn about their ecological importance but also to help protect them.
On a late May morning, for example, the CHMS Polaris team came to the Preserve. After a quick orientation from Jon the kids tore into stands of knotweed and clumps of garlic mustard. They also removed protective tubes around tree trunks in a grove Jon designed a few years ago to help anchor soils against the relentless efforts of the Winooski River to shift its course into the Preserve.
Other CHMS teams have tackled similar projects, such as cutting knotweed at the Town's Overocker Park, planting trees near the river at Volunteers Green and uprooting barberry bushes at the Preston Preserve.
Thanks to Jon and the Great Richmond Root-Out program he founded -- as well to the CHMS students and teachers who've been so willing to pour their own energy into the project!
How many times did people visit the Triple Buckets area of our Huntington River Gorge Preserve between late May and late August of 2021?
a. 127 b. 830 c. 1,263 d. 11, 141
The answer blew us away. It's "d" -- 11,141!
Congrats to RLT's Own Ethan Tapper