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Sunday Mar 24, 2019

Dear Paddlers,

The spring paddling season is approaching! This year we have an exceptionally deep snowpack at higher elevations, with about 9 feet at the stake on Mt. Mansfield, down from about 10 feet before the most recent thaw. The spring thaw has been gradual so far. Hopefully that will continue, keeping the flows at good runnable levels during the next 6-8 weeks. Aside from that, we have several pieces of news about VPC and the upcoming season:

2019 Pool Sessions

We had excellent attendance (and just a few cancellations) at the 4 pool sessions at UVM (1/26, 2/16, 3/3, 3/16). We also held 5 evening sessions at Mt. Abraham Union High School in Bristol (2/1 through 2/15). (The last time we had sessions at Mt. Abe was in 2006.) The venue is exceptionally affordable, with easy access to the pool. UVM is planning to start major construction on their athletic complex this year, so alternative pool session venues are needed.

Two upcoming sessions at Northern Vermont University in Johnson have been scheduled, on March 28 and April 18. For more information and our enhanced signup form go to www.vtpaddlers.net/index.php?id=9. (Many thanks are due to webmaster Tony Shaw for redesigning and enhancing the signup page.)

Trip Planning Meeting

The planning meeting for spring and summer trips was held on Thursday, February 21, at Jim Poulin’s house in Richmond. Several events were added to the Events Calendar before the meeting, and we worked out a full schedule of upcoming trips and other events. For details see http://www.vtpaddlers.net/index.php?id=7.

Spring Meeting and Potluck

The annual spring meeting is scheduled for Sunday, March 24, at 6:00 pm. As usual we’ll be meeting at the Williston Federated Church. After dinner, participants in a February/March trip to Costa Rica will be giving a presentation on their experience.

New Haven Ledges Race

This spring marks the 11th running of the race, which is being held on Saturday, April 13 (with a make-up date of April 20). For more information on the race, and a pre-registration link (on the About page), see www.facebook.com/NewHavenRace/.

2018’s 10th anniversary race had 57 registered entrants, very close to the maximum of 60. We’re hoping for comparable participation this year!

NFCT Paddling Film Festival at Outdoor Gear Exchange

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s film fest is being held on Thursday, April 25, in Burlington. NFCT always includes a mix of whitewater and flatwater films—canoeing and sea kayaking—with something else occasionally thrown in. The selections are from Rapid Media’s Reel Paddling Film Festival. On the NFCT website, go to Get Involved > NFCT Events.

Upcoming Clinics

Our whitewater clinics are now on the VPC Events Calendar. The Novice Clinic is scheduled for June 1-2, the weekend of FWR’s Onion River Race, and the Class II Clinic is scheduled for the weekend of July 13-14.

We had good participation in the Novice Clinic last year. With relatively low water levels, our moving water sessions on Saturday and Sunday were spent on the Winooski River, below Middlesex Dam and below Bolton Dam (on Sunday). We’re hoping for more water this year so we can return to the Mad (as in 2017). We’ll see if the weather cooperates.

Access and Stewardship

On February 4 we received this message from Noah Pollock, representing the Vermont River Conservancy:

FYI: GMP is starting a process to relicense the dam below the Wells River run in Newbury. Looks like the traditional take-out is w/n the property boundary; GMP is claiming no rec purposes. Looks like ANR is requesting some sort of rec assessment. It's a pretty awful take-out, steep hillside, no parking. And the put-in is on private land. At the minimum I wonder if we should file a comment to clarify existing uses?

Noah also included Ryan McCall and Bob Nasdor of AW as recipients. Ryan and the VPC board strongly agreed that a comment should be filed.

As many of you know, the Moretown Dam, just above the Lower Mad River put-in, has entered the relicensing process. Some of us attended meetings last year. The prospects look good for representation of paddlers' interests. A particular concern has been securing access on river left below the dam.

Many of you are aware of the issues involved and the progress made in the ongoing Green River dam relicensing process. Our appeal in Environmental Court has gone well so far. See this February 12 update from AW’s Bob Nasdor:

Green River Appeal Heads to the VT Supreme Court

American Whitewater has by and large fought this for us, but needs support in this resource-intensive fight, or in their other dozen or so projects in the northeast. See https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Membership/.

Also regarding the Green, see this article by Andrew Martin on StoweToday.com, published on September 27, 2018.

Some other news from 2018 on ongoing relicensing proceedings:

The Wrightsville Dam on the North Branch of the Winooski just outside of Montpelier has entered the relicensing process. Members of the local paddling community have provided some very useful information about this river. We’ll need more help as the process unfolds, including some dedicated local paddlers to help manage the process.

We also were dealt a tough hand at Sheldon Springs on the Missisquoi, with all releases between April 1 and June 15 cancelled for the foreseeable future, severely reducing opportunities to paddle this section of whitewater. We are still formulating a response, but this is yet another reminder of the threat that whitewater paddling opportunities are under in Vermont.

VPC Membership

Please be sure to renew your membership for 2019. (As most of you know it can be done online via PayPal.) Completely aside from the support your dues provide, our role in the paddling community is dependent on a large and dedicated membership. Lastly, officer elections will take place – for a two year term – at the end of 2019. Please consider taking a leadership role in the club, which has been serving the VT paddling community now for 55 years!

I am looking forward to a great paddling season in 2019 and seeing you all on the river. Let it rain (and snow)!

Sincerely,

Chris Weed
President

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