Saturday, November 25, 2006

Riverfront, Oh Riverfront

A cold day at Vermont Flower Farm this morning but plenty of time to get caught up on what has been happening at Vermont Gardens. It's been a busy week between finishing up fall tasks and making it through Thanksgiving. The weather has been great and we're really proud of what we have accomplished.

Our surveyor got involved in the work we wanted done and we are very close to having a complete survey. This took a bunch of research time at the Town Clerk's office. That might be something you don't think is necessary when you hire a surveyor but a survey is something you only want to do once. You want to know all the previous land changes in the area and you want clear boundaries. This is difficult because in the old days, surveyors used trees and wire fences and stone walls and thrown up roads and railroads as boundaries. That was fine except that many of these are now nothing but history.

I asked our surveyor to do good research and then to mark the property so there was no doubt about any corner, any twist. He did just that and started the work at the edge of Marshfield Village where the corners were very well established and agreed upon. It looks to me like we picked up some land that wasn't advertised by the previous owner and realtor as belonging to this piece; we also "lost" some river frontage. It is also clear that the new road entrance the Transportation guys allowed in the recent Route 2 construction was in the wrong place and they built an access road on part of our land. Our land comes to the edge of the old access road to the state property and includes what used to be the area river users parked their cars. It will be more obvious when we put up some deer fence but that is now someone else's problem. We'll know for sure when everything is complete in another week but once again this points out the need to have a good survey before you buy land or make commitments or improvements. In contrast, finding the real property lines after you have installed a fence is not a great feeling. As soon as we receive our final survey, we'll post an example which should make the importance of the process stand more clearly.

River frontage is an important resource for a variety of reasons. In our case we need a good water supply and a river can be used for agricultural purposes without permitting as long as one doesn't change the water course or do anything which will affect the volumes. This river is the Winooski River. It starts up in the Walden mountains and in Cabot as streams which come together, little by little, until in Marshfield Village three different pieces of the watershed merge.

Gail and I laugh about river frontage because more and more you see real estate signs advertising river frontage. This summer a house sold in Plainfield ten miles from here and the river frontage amounted to looking out the house window and down thirty feet as the house was built right on the edge of the river. Lake and pond frontage is about spoken for in Vermont so river frontage has become more in demand.

The Winooski River is a fine river as it heads for Montpelier and then north to Richmond, Essex and Winooski. "Our" piece of river is about 40-50 feet wide and a considerable distance down the bank on the property border. We intend to become involved with the Friends of the Winooski River, as their mission seems in keeping with some of what we believe in. As an organization they want to reduce pollution, promote improved wildlife habitat and encourage recreational opportunities. There's a lot of work to do along "our" river frontage, but over time we'll get things cleaned up.

As another week draws towards closure, we're happy with our progress. We have picked up a lot of trash river visitors left over the years, we've cut out the property lines and cut down dead trees for safety. We've begun an inventory of native trees, shrubs and plants, and we're making mental notice of where the red foxes den and where the deer and bear cross the river at night.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond, where heavy frost clings tightly to everything
as the morning sun yawns "Good morning!" and rises, intent upon chasing it away.

George Africa

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