By Angelo Lynn
Here’s a challenge for Vermont residents: Find an area dedicated to public use that needs cleaning up and work out a way to get it done.
Why do it? Three reasons: First, it’s not that hard. Second, it’s rewarding. Third, it’ll make life in the neighborhood more pleasant and special.
We mention this because the Moosalamoo Association rallied a crew of public-minded residents to clean up the Robert Frost Wayside picnic area this past Thursday, July 19. About 16 people, including six board members of the Moosalamoo Association, picked up the sticks and downed branches, filled in truck tire tracks left by a logging truck that must have driven there on a muddy winter day, and were partly the impetus for getting the U.S. Forest Service to replace two new picnic tables at the site.
The experience was valuable for all the right reasons: Rather than just talking about doing things, as a board the members of the MA rolled up their sleeves to help tidy up an area that receives substantial use (or at least would if it were nice), along one of the state’s two designated scenic highways (Route 125 from East Middlebury to Hancock over Middlebury Gap). The board’s concern was that the shoddy condition of the picnic area reflected poorly on the state, as well as on the immediate area around the Robert Frost interpretative trail.
It was, in short, a matter of civic pride: The board felt that if area residents can’t help keep up a picnic area associated with Robert Frost’s nearby cabin and well-known trail system, what kind of pride would be present in those communities? To the casual visitor, it would seem not much.
We know that not to be true with the residents of Ripton or the greater community, in general, but here’s the thing: heretofore it was not their responsibility to clean it up.
At one point it was the state’s, at another, the Vermont Chambers of Commerce chipped in to provide the tourist information on the kiosks, we’re told. Most recently, it’s been the responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service, which, as most of us know, have had its budget cut multiple years in a role because Republicans have been hell-bent on reducing federal programs and costs in order to provide larger tax cuts to the wealthy.
With fewer and fewer resources, our federal partners can’t always provide the high level of services that once helped keep such areas in tip-top condition. So it’s up to local residents to help.
If you notice a public area that needs sprucing up — say a town recreation area, a state park, a parking lot to a remote trailhead of a favorite hike, a favorite campground or fishing access area, perhaps, make an effort to help clean it up.
For our part, this newspaper (email firstname.lastname@example.org) will pledge to help broadcast the work effort and rally area residents to the cause. Just let us know what the project will be, the committee or person to contact, and the work date of the project.
With just a little bit of help from all of our friends, we’re confident we can help put a shine on our local towns and brighten our spirits as well.
Angelo Lynn is the publisher of the Addison Independent, a sister publication of the Mountain Times.