This week The Valley Reporter has stories about two projects that are the result of multi-town, multi-organization collaboration and cooperation.

The first is a project to improve the safety of access to the Mad River near the Mad River Path Greenway by Meadow Road while also reducing erosion and damage to vegetation. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, along with Friends of the Mad River and the Mad River Path worked together on the project. And while that project is located in Waitsfield, it leads to a swim hole that is widely used by people from all Valley towns and beyond.

The other multi-town, multi-organization project is stewardMRV, and it is a collaboration between the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce, Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston and the Mad River Valley Trails Collaborate (Mad River Path, Mad River Riders, Friends of the Mad River, the Mad River Valley Recreation District, the Mad River Valley Planning District and other organizations).

The goal of stewardMRV is to educate and instill in people a sense of stewardship for local, public recreational areas, whether they are federal, state or local parcels. There are significant problems with dog waste and litter which stewardMRV wants to address. The organizers are cognizant that each recreation access point had different needs and different solutions and must be managed on a site-by-site basis. 

These projects recognize what multi-town entities such as the Mad River Valley Recreation District and the Mad River Valley Planning District already demonstrate; namely, that our community has multiple towns yet we all share a watershed, a Valley and two mountain ranges. We share a middle and high school. We all share one commercial district and two ski areas.

All the ways we are joined to each other to work together on our economy, environment, recreation opportunities, prosperity and health can and do exist without threatening any single town’s jurisdiction or autonomy. During the 2019-2020 discussions about a tri-town local option tax, a question was raised about whether individual towns collecting the option tax and three towns making spending decisions was somehow a threat to the sovereign authority of the town. It wasn’t a threat to any town then and it’s not now.

Here’s to more and deeper multi-town collaborations.