VYCC: Conservation in Action at Arms Park

By: Eva Kamman

 Burlington Parks Recreation and Waterfront has entered into a multi-year agreement with VYCC to host a Community Crew for the next several summers.  The crews are comprised of six to eight 15-19 year old members as well as 2 VYCC crew leaders.  The focus of their work will be trail building and restoration in Burlington Park areas, specifically in Conservation parks such as Ethan Allen Park and Arms Park. This work is partially about the physical infrastructure improvements, but it is also about building a strong conservation culture from the ground up through investing in the young people in our community. We at BPRW are very proud of the work happening through the hands of the VYCC.  – Dan Cahill, BPRW Land Steward      

On Thursday July 6th, the Burlington Community Crew of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps took a break from trail work to meet with BPRW Field Naturalist Alicia Daniel. The Burlington Community Crew (BCC) was working in Arms Park building a raised earthen turnpike. The turnpike will span over 350 feet once completed and will eliminate the muddy, swampy sections of trail near the entrance to the park located behind the North Avenue Alliance Church.   BPRW offered the natural history walk to say thank you to the crew and to give a wider perspective to the hard work the crew is doing.

Alicia led a nature walk around Arms Park in which members learned about the park through various lenses including geology, biology, and landscape history. The walk began with a trek down to the beach, where Alicia Daniel challenged the crew to find an unusual geologic feature.  They found the remnants of a landslide caused by soil sliding over a hard layer of clay, which had sloughed from the hillside.  The crew then moved down to a wide streambed to investigate this clay layer further.  While there, they spotted a large barn owl winging through the canopy and raccoon tracks imprinted in the mud. Caught up in the excitement, two crew members had a little too much fun and ended up sinking up to their ankles as the soft clay soil sucked over their boots. After that muddy endeavor, Alicia Daniel led the crew to one final destination: an old quarry from the early 1900’s. Here she taught them that the quarry was used to harvest local dolomite limestone or “marble” but since the cost of quarrying the stone outweighed the selling price the site was given up.         

The BCC has also completed another project at the Ethan Allen Park the summer. There, they restored an access road that leads to the Ethan Allen Tower and created a drainage system to mitigate erosion.  The BCC has been very grateful to have Alicia Daniel as a teacher. She sparked interest in a group of eight young people, a task not always easily accomplished.  Five of the crew members are Burlington residents, but wherever they are from they all hope to have more chances to learn from her.