Groups work to restore ecology of Burlington brownfield site

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 6:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2022 at 7:05 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Restoring the ecology of a former Burlington Superfund site is the goal behind a new effort in the city’s South End.

“We see it as a model for how, as a community, we can turn these brownfield sites into greenfield sites,” said Jess Rubin with MycoEvolve. Turning the area around the former Burlington Barge Canal into a vibrant ecosystem is the goal. “Ways that we can do that are to remediate the toxins that are in the soil and water.”

The site where the canal sits was once a lumber yard in the 19th century and later used as a coal gasification plant. It was later declared a federal Superfund site due to toxins in the soil. It’s currently a brownfield open for future development. On Thursday, volunteers were learning to look for invasive species. “Mostly, so far it’s been the removal of a lot of litter as well as documenting the species that live here in this place,” Rubin said.

With the effort to restore the land, the group Friends of the Barge Canal is partnering with Rubin and Michael Bald, who runs the organization Got Weeds? They are teaching others how to remove invasive plants safely. Plants including the glossy buckthorn, that push others out of their natural habitat

“We are not using any pesticides. We are basically teaching people how to do it -- the methods. How to do it safely. and setting the table to come back and carry on through upcoming years,” Bald said.

The volunteers are also planting seeds in the soil and hope that someday when developers finally break ground here, a part of the property is preserved as open land.

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