Brief history of the Pine Stree Barge Canal
The Pine Street Barge Canal (PSBC) is a fragile urban wildland in the south end of Burlington, on unceded territory where the Abenaki fished and lived for thousands of years until settlers filled the wetland area with wood chips and sawdust, built a railroad, and dug a canal. The area became a log landing for the lumber industry (1860's-1890s) before being taken over by the petroleum industry for a manufactured gas plant in 1908. When the plant closed in 1966, the parcels were designated brownfield and Superfund sites, left to naturally attenuate. The canal was capped to prevent 56 toxins of concern from seeping into Lake Champlain. Now, a property developer is building a Nordic spa on the brownfield site and aims to donate one of the adjacent Superfund sites to the city of Burlington. We are doing all we can to ensure it will be put in conservation so that it can be restored, remediated and eventually rematriated by the Abenaki and local community.
Our focus was on the Pine Street Barge Canal which we tend through:
- Conservation Efforts deemed necessary through our Community Science; Check out: Pine street Barge Canal Superfund Sites. Gathering baseline ecological inventory to record natural attenuation and cause for conservation.
- Ecological Resotoration Workshops; learn to respectfully remove nonnative species mechanically, minimize soil disturbance, and restored this degraded site with site specific native species.
- College/University Class Projects: UVM's Field Naturalist, Soil Water Pollution Remediation, Reclaiming the Commons, Environmental Problem Solving, and St Michael's GIS class have done semester-long projects here with our guidance.
- Remediation Research: of the 56 toxins of concern present in the soil and water amidst the peat. Currently naturally attenuation is occurring via local microbes, fungi, and plants (bio, myco, & phytoremediation) can degrade, sequester, extract the contaminants over time through successional strategies in carefully planned and monitored research pilots.
- Rematriation: Abenaki and other Marginalized groups reclaim land access to live their traditional ways while growing ecoliteracy.
Summer 2022 Missisquoi Chief Joanne Crawford & son Chad came to the site which he smudged. We gifted them tobacco grown from seeds we saved from Alnobaiwi .
VT Youth Build, an organization empowering youth (16-24) to build their future through education, job skills training, and service. They learn science and skills relevant to ecological restoration field at the site.
As of Fall 2023 our accomplishments include:
- In year 1, supported founding Friends of the Barge Canal, a local 501C3 aimed to support conserving the site.
- Conducted 18 Community Science Events which involved local community members documenting species in Pine Street Barge Canal iNaturalist Projects. 219 species have research grade, including two Vulnerable, 1 Critically Endangered and 1 Critically Imperiled.
- Hosted 14 ecological restoration workshops; 2 acres of nonnative species have begun to be removed and 1.5 lbs of native wetland seed planted.
- Hosted & created 6 projects for college classes (UVM: PSS 269 (Pollution Remediation), PBIO311 (Field Naturalists), CDAE 395 (Reclaiming the Commons), NR 4060 (Environmental Problem & Impact Assessment)) & St Michael’s (ES 260 (GIS), & ES 201 (Environmental Research Methods)).
- Began learning about the process to update the legal definition of remediation, which is currently outdated (scoop dump build, or cap over) in relation to scientific remediation, irresponsible to future generations. We identified gaps in law and policy needing to be filled!
- Compiled peer-reviewed journal articles on remediation strategies addressing this site's specific contaminants of concern and began designing viable remediation pilot studies.
- Hosted Abenaki panel with 3 local Abenaki community members, learning about their ancestral, current and future relationship to this complex site. This models how Original Peoples can be included as primary stakeholders in land tending decisions. Film available upon request!
A FEW KEY SLIDES FROM OUR PRESENTATION
As of late fall 2023
Our orientation to this site has shifted.