Local forest groups team up to honor Levi Duclos

MIDDLEBURY — Several local organizations coordinated this summer to honor Levi Duclos, the New Haven teen who died on a Ripton trail in January 2012, by rerouting a section of trail to make it more accessible to hikers.
Members of the Green Mountain Club, the Long Trail Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service and other organizations repaired the Abbey Pond Trail in Middlebury, which is within the Green Mountain National Forest.
Nineteen-year-old Levi Duclos died on a cold winter night after succumbing to hypothermia on the Emily Proctor Trail in Ripton. An avid outdoorsman, Duclos helped found the Environmental Club at Mount Abraham Union High School, from which he graduated in 2010.
Money raised through the Levi Duclos Memorial Fund, which totaled $13,000, was put toward the repairs. The Long Trail Patrol, a professional trail maintenance organization, did a lot of the heavy work, said Kathy Duclos, Levi’s aunt.
“They improved three stream crossings and rerouted a whole portion of the trail that was wet,” Duclos said.
The work, which occurred throughout this summer, was recently completed.
Because the section of the trail was within the Green Mountain National Forest, organizers had to secure several permits, and comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, said Holly Knox, who works with the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes division of the U.S. Forest Service. Knox and fellow Forest Service employee Seth Coffey helped with this process, Duclos said.
The total length of the trail relocation was 0.4 mile, nearly one quarter of the two-mile-long trail, Knox said.
Though the Abbey Pond Trail is not administered by the Green Mountain Club, the group pitched in to help. Levi Duclos was a member of the club, and the Abbey Pond Trail was one he knew well, his aunt said. The Middlebury Union High School Diversified Occupations Program was also instrumental in the project’s completion.
While the trail construction was completed in late August, Duclos said there will be ongoing maintenance to the trail done by a group of students from the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury.
The Forest Service, which administers 193 million acres of grassland and forest across the country, does not permit physical memorials, like monuments or signs, within any of its boundaries. Knox said the trail reconstruction was a more fitting way to honor Levi, as it will enable hikers to better enjoy the wilderness he loved.
“Working with the Duclos family to make improvements to this trail was a great opportunity for the Forest Service,” Knox said, adding that the organization often works with both public and private organizations for projects such as this.
The Green Mountain Club on Oct. 20 will host a hike of the trail; everyone is encouraged to join. Find more details at www.gmcbreadloaf.org/outings.

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