On March 11th, the Mad River Valley Libraries and Friends of the Mad River hosted Zac Cota-Weaver from the North Branch Nature Center to bring an awesome Amphibian Road Crossing training to the MRV. We explored the lives of amphibian species like the Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), the Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum), and the American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) – among many others. We covered the basics of how our amphibian neighbors live, how to help them cross the road, and how to capture important community science data along the way. If you missed the training, the whole thing can be found online at the NBNC website.
After the event, Zac let us know that a TON of volunteers signed up to be Amphibian Road Crossing volunteers here in the Valley. It is exciting to know that there are so many of you out there with curious minds, a willingness to pitch in, and a love for amphibians!
One of the challenges of helping our amphibian neighbors is the fact that they tend to only move around on warm, rainy nights. Springtime offers a handful of those warm, wet nights – but predicting the weather in Vermont ain’t always easy!
Friends and the Mad River Valley Libraries want to invite anyone who attended the training event (or anyone who is interested in amphibians – we just ask that you watch the NBNC training videos first or join up with someone who has) to join us on a warm, wet evening sometime in the next few weeks. We will keep an eye on the weather forecast and when the conditions look good, we will give you a 24 hour notice with the time, location, and parking directions. We hope to see you out there!
What: Amphibian Road Crossing In-Person Event
When: A warm, wet night sometime in April – with 24+ hour notice
Hosted by: Friends of the Mad River, the Mad River Valley Libraries, the Northbranch Nature Center
For: Volunteers who want to learn about their amphibian neighbors and help them safely cross the road!
Friends of the Mad River’s Storm Smart program launched its fourth field season this week. The program has worked with dozens of community members at more than 100 Valley properties to help property owners sustainably manage runoff and reduce erosion. Friends of the Mad River (FMR) staff offers homeowners and property managers a free assessment and a custom report, similar to a home energy audit, that outlines steps they can take on their own property to save dollars and contribute to the Mad River’s clean swim holes and the community’s resilience.
“Since launching in 2018, the Storm Smart program has helped people across The Valley ‘spongify’ our landscape. By slowing down, spreading out and sinking in water as it crosses the land, we can reduce the impact of storms like the heavy spring rain we saw last week. We can slow runoff on our roads and swim holes, recharge ground water and build resilience into the landscape,” said Ira Shadis, Friends of the Mad River stewardship manager.
“It’s been a pleasure to see that many of the green infrastructure practices used to manage water can also benefit wildlife. Healthy connected forests slow rain in the canopy while deep roots make a more porous floor below. Rain gardens, flush with native flowers, sedges and bushes, can provide important habitat for pollinators, birds and other small wildlife neighbors. Planting along streams, ponds and drainages can reduce pollutant loads while also providing shade and clean water for fish and amphibians alike,” he continued.
In 2020 and again this year, Friends of the Mad River partnered with Friends of the Winooski and the Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District to offer the Storm Smart program to the entire Winooski watershed.
“Expanding Storm Smart from its beginnings in the Mad River watershed is an opportunity for this community to be both an incubator and collaborator,” said Corrie Miller, FMR executive director. “With so many people seeing value and seeking to play a part, each doing their bit in their backyards, we have so much to learn and share.”
“That same spirit of collaboration and creativity informs a lot of our work. As we grapple with big, complex issues like climate change, we see a lot of value in broadening collaboration across our community,” Shadis added.
The Watershed Project is a new partnership between Friends of the Mad River, the Community Engagement Lab, Friends of the Winooski, the Vermont Energy Education Program and a pair of professional artists that helps educators bring the connection between art and science to their students. Interested educators can contact Claire Tebbs at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.communityengagementlab.org/the-watershed-project.
To schedule a Storm Smart assessment or learn more reach out to Shadis at Stormsmart@friendsofthemadriver.org, or call (802) 496-9127, or visit www.friendsofthemadriver.org/storm-smart.
This article was originally published in the Valley Reporter on April 1st, 2021