With Friends like these

July 14, 2006

Friends of the Mad River has been doing yeoman's work for all of us this summer and for many years. Friends of the Mad River was formed during hearings over expanding snowmaking at Sugarbush in 1990.

While the issue of snowmaking created divisions within the community for a while, the creation of Friends of the Mad River ultimately created common goals within the community.

Originally formed by individuals who neither opposed nor advocated for the proposed snowmaking project, the organization has stayed true to its roots and its mission of advocating for the river and its health.

The group has remained apolitical and takes its positions and picks its tasks based specifically on the issue of river health. Its membership is broad and its board members are diverse.

In 1994 Friends of the Mad River took over stewardship of the Mad River Watch program, one of the oldest citizen water quality monitoring program in the country. Through the river watch program volunteers collect bi-monthly samples from The Valley's streams, tributaries, as well as the swim holes of the Mad River.

After checking water samples for the presence of <MI>E. coli<D> bacteria, the Friends post the results at local swim holes along with information about how individuals can assess river health for swimming.  

The educational component of the group's mission has been incredibly successful from one end of The Valley to the other and public awareness of how <MI>E. coli<D> bacteria get in the water (and can be kept out) has increased.

And while the group has eschewed politics in favor of education and outreach, the group's influence (political and otherwise) has grown. The Friends of the Mad River is the 'go-to' group when issues of river health, river protection and river impact come up.

This citizens' group, advocating for the river that runs the length of The Valley, does more to increase public awareness and to educate than any governmental agency or department ever could.

We are fortunate to have Friends like this looking out for the river.

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