Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Backyard *The Interview By Dave Winter

Saco River Recreation Council in Fryeburg, ME
Michelle Broyer poses with Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers JD Tanner and Emily Ressler in July 2009.

In 2009 the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers spent the fourth of July weekend at the Swan Falls Campground on the Saco River. To read about their 2009 visit please go here. Recently, Dave Winter, Outreach Manager at Leave No Trace, interviewed Michelle Broyer, former Swan Falls Campground Manager and current Saco River Recreation Council's Conservation and Education Program Director, to see how things are going on the Saco River and to hear about what is planned for 2010.

Dave Winter (DW): How are things going?

Michelle Broyer (MB): Things are going great. The Saco River Recreational Council and I have been in transition this winter and there have been changes in my position. I am now the Saco River Recreational Council’s Conservation and Education program director. I will no longer be managing Swan’s Falls Campground but will be running our education program hand in hand with the campground. This gives me the ability to concentrate solely on developing and expanding on our existing education programs that we started with Stefan Jackson of The Nature Conservancy and The Saco River Recreational Council. The Nature Conservancy will be funding most or part of this program for the next few years.

DW: That's awesome, congrats. Also congratulations on being a 2009 Leave No Trace Advocacy Award Winner.

MB: I was very excited when I found out that I won an Advocacy Award last November!! Thank you sooo much! I am so proud to be recognized by such a great organization!

DW: Of course, thank you. So did you feel like your efforts in 2009 were a success?

MB: Yes, absolutely. We saw a lot of progress on the river. Our "Take Back our River" campaign with police chief Phillip Weymouth was a huge success. We worked hand in hand with the Saco River Patrol, a law enforcement unit on the river, to educate the general public about ways to enjoy this one of a kind recreational river in the White Mountains and Saco River Valley responsibly. We want everyone to come out and have an enjoyable time on the river while being safe and being respectful of the environment and everyone around them. In the last five years since we began ramping up our education efforts we have seen a huge difference in visitors behavior. Home owners in the area are much happier. The out of control partying has gotten better, and the trash left behind seems to be less, and we don't hear the fireworks as much as we used to.

DW: Why do you think you have had success?

MB: Because we have stayed with it. We haven't given up. I think we have been successful because of our persistents with the education and law enforcement. We have a big presence of folks in the area educating people, it all starts with planning and preparation. You can go to our website and see some of the things we talk to people about at the put in. This education along with a greater emphasis on being organized has really helped. The presence of the Saco River Recreation Council and its partners, The Nature Conservancy, Leave No Trace, law enforcement, and private property owners on the river have helped change peoples behavior. I think if we keep this up we will reach our goals.

DW: Your really are passionate about the Saco River aren't you?

MB: Yes. I grew up in this area. As a kid my family and I would go on fourth of July trips on the river every year. It got way out of control for awhile on the river with lots of alcohol, parties, trash and people. It was no longer a family friendly river. Our goal is to make this a family friendly river again.

DW: So what do you have planned for 2010?

MB: We are going to continue to ramp up our field education programs. We are working on a survey to give to visitors that are heading out on the river and for when they return so that we can hear from the user and get some more statistics to measure how we are doing. We will continue to do our river clean ups in the spring and fall. We have "eco kits" we will continue to give out that include trowels, biodegradable toilet paper and trash bags that we can give out when we are giving talks to visitors at the put in. We are working on more bulletin boards with trip info, mileage, etc. We also hope to be able to host the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers again in 2010.

To learn more about the Saco River Recreation Council please visit their website

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