The second year of The Valley’s stewardMRV program saw increased volunteerism, increased awareness of the need for residents and visitors to police local recreation sites for trash and dog waste and increased coordination between the community partners that manage the effort.
StewardMRV was created in 2021 by the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce with support from the Mad River Valley Trails Collaborative and Friends of the Mad River to better steward local recreation access points throughout The Valley. The program came after the COVID pandemic resulted in significant increases in local recreation sites, leading to improper dog waste practice and garbage left behind.
With funds from the chamber, local businesses and local towns, the program featured dog waste bags, trash and recycling receptacles, port-a-lets (accessible and with wooden covers) at multiple recreation access points in The Valley.
This year Tom Spencer, Warren, was the coordinator for the program and according to chamber director Eric Friedman, he was responsible for the success of this year’s operation.
“We had six volunteers the first year and 20 this year. It made a dramatic difference in how this place looked. Peple were treating the place better because they saw them clean. We were measuring things in terms of how little garbage we saw this year compared to last year because people were picking it up. So we saw a noticable decline in garbage. That’s a testament to the whole ethos of stewardship,” Friedman told the Waitsfield Select Board at a recent meeting.
Friedman presented the draft report on this year’s stewardMRV to the board at an October 24 meeting. The full report will be available on the chamber website shortly.
At that meeting, Spencer credited the volunteer stewards and their enthusiam for this year’s success.
“The stewards have been absolutely phenomenal. We far exceeded our expectations and see significant opportunity to take it further next year, Spencer said, adding that the volunteer stewards were constantly coming to him with great ideas.
“I’m excited for year three,” Spencer said.
Friedman told the board that this year, under Spencer’s leadership, stewardMRV developed relationships with other community organizations including the Mysa School and Neck of the Woods. Those partnerships had Mysa School students stewarding Bridge Street and Neck of the Woods students monitoring and picking up the Mad River Path Greenway.
“And now, Mysa School wants to be more actively involved outside of summer. They’re going to be stewarding Bridge Street year round,” Friedman reported.
In 2021 stewardMRV relied on a college intern working full time for three months. This year Spencer worked part time for five months which worked out better, Friedman said.
“I want to publicly thank Tom for his work this year as well as A & J Recyling who were an incredible partner in this,” he concluded.