Work crews tidy up one of Lake Champlain’s most visited islands

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 4:19 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Valcour Island is one of Lake Champlain’s most visited islands. Only accessible by boat, the beloved spot is popular with history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And as Elissa Borden reports, the beauty on the island doesn’t come without some hard work.

Just a mile paddle from Peru, New York, sits one of Lake Champlain’s most popular islands.

“There are plenty of sandy beaches that folks will go to land on. There’s a trail that goes around the perimeter and there’s historical sites, too,” said Noah Pollock with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a group that is helping address some of the conservation issues associated with all the visitors.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail runs 740 miles from New York to Maine, and Valcour Island is a popular day stop. “When people visit Valcour, they expect clean, safe, comfortable campsites, and our work helps ensure that,” Pollock said.

Over six days, work crews recently helped perform critical maintenance to about 10 of the primitive campsites located on the shores of the island. “A lot of the privies, or toilets, were built over 30 years ago and many of them had rotted, were full, or falling apart,” Pollock said. He says the work was made possible thanks to a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

In addition to repairing privies, they also replaced some fire pits in need of some help. “There was also a lot of debris on the island, like docks that had floated up that were kind of dangerous because they had rusted nails or pieces of iron sticking out. So, we were able to cut up those pieces of old docks with the help of DEC staff,” Pollock said.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation would typically be the ones to oversee this work, according to Pollock, but he says with increased visitation, it can be hard to keep up.

Because a huge part of the mission of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is to act as environmental stewards, Pollock says they’re always happy to step in and help. “It was a real chance to give the island a makeover, to bring it up to standards that it deserves because it really is a special spot,” he said.

Pollock says he encourages everyone visiting the island -- or anywhere else in our local mountains and parks the follow the “pack in, pack out” ethic and volunteer to help out when you can. “We, as an organization and we collectively, as the public, have a responsibility to do a part where we can to keep these places in good shape. It makes it a better experience for everybody and helps protect the environment,” Pollock said.