The Belvidere Bog Walk and Paddle Tour, held on Saturday, September 9th, is part of an initiative to support reclassification efforts funded through a 2016 Section 604b Clean Water Act grant through the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The purpose of the tour was to provide an outreach opportunity to landowners and community members to discuss wetlands reclassification and the use, function, and value of Belvidere Bog and the North Branch Wetland Complex. Participants included landowners, community members, town officials, and Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC) and DEC staff.
Jeff Parsons, a Wildlife Biologist from Arrowwood Environmental, led the educational tour and discussion of the significant functions and values of the high quality wetland complex. The group visited selected walking and viewing sites along Newton Valley Road and Bog Road in Belvidere. Parsons emphasized the importance of increasing wetland buffers to adequately protect wetland functions, including flood storage, wildlife habitat, and water quality.
Discussion of wetland functions emphasized the key role the wetland complex plays in contributing to water quality and flood storage in the North Branch of the Lamoille River. The tour highlighted the natural history of the bog and its unique plant and wildlife communities. Additionally, Jeff Parsons led a paddle tour in the high-quality sedge meadow located off Bog Road. The paddle tour focused on the presence of beaver activity and rare plant species found in sedge meadow habitat.
A key motivator for hosting the tour was to provide an opportunity for landowners and community members to learn more about reclassification and express concerns or pending questions. Discussion at the tour focused on how landowners and community members currently use the wetland complex for recreational activities, including hunting, fishing, and boating. Landowners expressed concerns regarding recreation and silviculture if the bog were to be reclassified as a Class I Wetland. Other concerns raised by landowners and community members included the ability to build on personal property, future development pressure, and the impact of reclassification on property and resale values.
Overall, the Belvidere Bog Walk and Paddle Tour was well received by the landowners and community members who participated. They appreciated the opportunity to voice their concerns and learn more about what makes the bog unique and worth protecting.
The Lamoille County Planning Commission continues to communicate with the Belvidere Planning Commission about the potential reclassification of Belvidere Bog as a Class I Wetland.