The Burlington Department of Parks and Recreation organized a cleanup day to help waterfront park and the bike path sections from Perkin’s Pier to the dog park recover from the flooding in time for the Vermont City Marathon. Over the past few weeks, I’ve walked around the waterfront numerous times photographing the damage and debris. A couple of weeks ago, I saw this driftwood piled up on the Coast Guard boat launch.

As I passed by, I casually wondered what would happen to it and where it would end up. Little did I know that I would be part of that process. Parks and Rec. put out the call for volunteers and I heard about it through Run Vermont and the #BTV Twitter hash tag. I regularly benefit from the bike path personally and professionally so I decided to head down to help clean up.

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Burlington has a lot of pride in the lake, the waterfront, and our popular bike path and a number of people showed up to help clean it up.

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After a quick sign in and some free coffee, we split up into three groups to focus on Perkin’s Pier, around the Echo center and the Burlington Boathouse, and the U.S. Coast Guard boat launch and points north.

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While some folks went out to start collecting & sorting debris for transportation back to the dumpster, a bunch of us stayed behind to pick through the current big pile. The goal was to provide the McNeil generating station with a dumpster of clean driftwood ready for burning. To that end, we had to hand-pick through everything to remove any metal, plastic, glass, paint, or pressure-treated wood.

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While we were working on the big pile, trucks came in with the driftwood that others had collected from along the rest of the bike path.

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Given the size of the pile, I thought it would take the better part of the morning but after an hour or so we were down to little bits which would have to wait for the bucket loader. After some wandering around, looking for the best next project to dive into, a small team of us ended up near the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center and the fishing pier loading driftwood into a trailer for transportation back to the dumpster. We made about three runs, filling (and sometimes overfilling!) the trailer with water-logged wood. Adam would then drive the long way around because it was the only semi-dry path that the cart & trailer could make it through.

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After a few hours of work, our dumpster was full and people were reporting that Perkin’s Pier was equally filled so our work was done for the day. There’s still a lot of cleanup to do, though, and a fair bit of standing water. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and some of the water will drain on its own before the marathon!