Anyone who has visited the Austin Walk at the Lareau Swimhole in Waitsfield Saturday, November 4, might have noticed more tubes in the ground than during previous visits. These tubes protect tree saplings planted over that weekend by volunteers in an effort led by the Waitsfield Conservation Commission and Friends of the Mad River. In three hours, the group of volunteers planted 150 native shrubs and trees at three sites: Austin Parcel, Lareau Swimhole along the river, and Virginia Farley Riverside Park (formerly known as the Tardy Parcel).
“These three areas were selected because they are areas where Japanese knotweed has been removed and where floodplain forest restoration work is in progress,” said Friends of the Mad River AmeriCorps member Onome Ofoman. “Knotweed is a fast-growing invasive species found along the Mad River and recognizable this time of the year by its dull orange foliage. Native tree species, like the ones planted, have a higher chance of surviving if planted after the invasive species population is under control,” Ofoman continued.
“The partnership between Friends of the Mad River and the local conservation commissions has been great,” said Friends of the Mad River (FMR) director Ira Shadis. “The incredible effort all the volunteers have put into managing invasive species has created opportunities for the next step in restoring historic natural communities to these riverside locations. Just take a look at areas along the Mad with dense forest cover -- you don’t see knotweed thriving in the shade of these old trees. The aim is to give the native species a jump start and help them on their way to becoming old trees themselves.”
“If you’re wondering why floodplains are important, or if you’d like to see some of these features in person, come out to the floodplains workshop we are hosting to hear directly from Ned Swanberg, floodplain manager at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC),” Onome said. “We will be outside for one to two hours, so please dress for the weather.”
The workshop is part of Friends of the Mad River’s monthly “Climate and Ecology” series that focuses on how the watershed and ecosystem are faring due to the changing climate. Anyone interested in the workshop can contact Ofoman at