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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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‘Stop and listen’

To The Editor:

This letter is addressed to the Waitsfield Select Board.

I am extremely concerned by the hasty actions the town of Waitsfield has pursued in regards to dredging the Mad River.

While I understand that Patrick Ross, engineer from ANR, gave verbal recommendations and limited the town’s activity to five or six sites (for now), the deep dredging and gravel stockpiling that we are helplessly witnessing today is outrageous.

What is worse, there does not seem to be any documentation, nor does there seem to be any accountability for the extensive work that is being done. It is unacceptable too for the town of Waitsfield to allocate so much money (using the $500,000 line of credit taken after the May flood) and to ask for public (citizen and watershed experts) input only after the fact. A meeting at the end of next week is a great idea. But the damage is done.

Many believe that this issue is bigger than the town and, in fact, it is a statewide problem that all started with Shumlin’s "digging deep" stump speech and it is now out of control. But let’s not forget how interconnected we all are. Caitrin Noel, in her letter to the governor last week, explained that “taking away the important floodplain access that our river needs to dissipate its energy, we are creating an even more disastrous situation during future high water events. It's like building a plumbing system with no pressure relief valves—as flood waters move downstream, raging through the severely incised channels we have created, eventually they build up enough force to explode out of the channel in a big way, creating an even more dangerous situation. Maybe the Mad River Valley should apologize in advance to Waterbury for sending them increasingly furious flood waters in the future.”

I urge you to slow down and think this through. Perhaps we should stop and listen to those many who have dedicated much if not all of their lives to protecting the watershed, before it is too late.

Jennifer Stella




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