Editorial: Going for the triple crown
This coming Saturday presents the opportunity for a triple crown: throughout the state it is the 42nd annual Green Up Day with all the festivities that entails; it’s also Connect the Dot day, which draws attention to global climate change; and to cap it off, there are many opportunities to help clean up some of the devastation from last summer’s Tropical Storm Irene.
On that last front, Gov. Peter Shumlin has declared Saturday a Green Up to Recover initiative that focuses Green Up Day activities specifically on those areas that are still showing the wreckage and debris from that disaster.
Overwhelming? Not at all.
The majority of Vermonters have participated in Green Up Day activities at some point in their lives, and many others readily respond to the emergency needs of friends and neighbors when disaster strikes. These two activities have been combined for that very reason, and give us all that much more cause to be out and about this Saturday to help each other, as well as to make the state stronger and more beautiful in the process.
But it will take a lot of work.
On recent drives through those areas most damaged by TS Irene, from Mount Snow to Waterbury, the damage remains extensive. Trees still lay strewn along riverbeds and creeks; stacks of branches and debris are piled along the shores of lakes and rivers, with some debris still relatively close to roadsides. It is debris — trash mixed in with uprooted trees and branches — that looks less than appealing in what were some of the most scenic stretches of Vermont. Lending a helping hand in those areas would be a godsend.
It is also not something that can likely make much of a dent in a single day.
To that end, the state has launched three separate initiatives that deserve Vermonters support:
• Green Up Day and Irene Connection: Green Up town coordinators in hard hit areas are working with Long Term Recovery Committees to help displaced Vermonters get back into their homes and town officials to identify hot spots of trash and debris from the flooding that still needs to be cleaned up, as well as other needs, such as yard work and plantings for flooded properties.
• SerVermont is another well-considered statewide effort that extends the volunteer spirit throughout the spring and summer. Realizing that a single day of cleaning up won’t solve the problem, this effort creates a framework within which such volunteerism can extend throughout the summer. Those involved are creating a website on which recovery projects being organized by local groups can be listed and where volunteers can sign up to help. SerVermont will also be able to link affiliated volunteer groups from outside Vermont — such as church-based relief efforts — with recovery efforts.
• Department of Labor’s “putting Vermonters back to work initiative”: Through a grant from the federal Department of Labor, in coordination with FEMA, the state Labor Department is paying unemployed Vermonters to work on recovery projects hosted by public entities and nonprofit organizations. Grants are tackling such projects as recreation facilities, cleaning waterways and parks, and to other statewide entities such as the Vermont Department of Forest and Parks, the Green Mountain National Forest and Food Works.
In this area, East Middlebury, Ripton, Hancock, Granville, Brandon, Forest Dale, Goshen all suffered some damage to flooding and might seek such help. For those willing to volunteer, there is still much to be done in Brandon, and over the Middlebury and Brandon Gaps, as well as throughout the White River Valley, including south to Rochester, Pittsfield and Killington. It’s a summer long endeavor, but it won’t get cleaned up without all of us pitching in to help in whatever ways we can.
Get involved and check out the projects needing help at www.greenupvermont.org.
Angelo S. Lynn
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