Conservation group works toward purchase of wetlands
BENNINGTON -- A local group working to buy the wetlands off Morgan Street is organizing a fish tour, a bike ride, and a clean-up project for the area.
Walloomsac Headwaters Park and Natural Area, formerly the Friends of the Morgan Street Wetlands, is hosting the events in part to make people aware of the resource as it begins to plan how to raise funds for the purchase, said Bennington Economic and Community Development Director Michael Harrington.
He said the 140 acres of wetlands belongs to the Greenberg Trust, and is up for sale, but the Walloomsac Headwaters Park and Natural Area group has an option on it. It has also received a commitment from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to cover two-thirds of the cost. The remaining third has to be raised from the community. How much the sale price will be is unknown, but the land is assessed at $130,000.
On Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., starting at the Beech Street School at 246 South Stream Road, attendees will walk the stream with Monty Walker, fish culture specialist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and learn about the fish that dwell in the wetland.
They will take the pH levels of the water and talk about what conditions different fish species favor.
On Tuesday, Aug. 11, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. anyone with a fat-tired bicycle and a helmet is welcome to meet at the Bennington Recreational Center on 655 Gage St. Police will provide an escort to the wetlands area where there is a system of trails.
On Sunday, Aug. 14, at 5:30 p.m., grab some work gloves and meet at the Beech Street Ball Field at 319 Beech St. where the Bennington Rugby Club will be helping to clean trash from the trails. Garbage bags for trash collection and refreshments for volunteers will be provided.
More information on any of these events can be obtained by contacting Shelly Stiles at the Bennington County Conservation District at 802-442-2275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harrington said the Headwaters group is currently planning its upcoming fundraising efforts, and these events are aimed at raising public awareness about the wetlands.
The wetlands, while privately owned, have traditionally been open to the public. Harrington said if another private owner were to purchase the land, or access to it, that openness would not be guaranteed.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.
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