How do cultural heritage and recreation
connect us to Lake Champlain?
The Champlain Valley possesses a trove of cultural and natural treasures that require careful stewardship so that future generations can enjoy them. The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership operated by the LCBP, works to help people better understand and appreciate these resources.
The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) was established to preserve, protect, and interpret the historical, cultural, and recreational resources of the Champlain Valley though partnerships in New York, Québec and Vermont. Much has been accomplished since the CVNHP Management Plan was approved in May 2011. New bike routes have been established, the anniversaries of the War of 1812 and the American Civil War were commemorated, historic artifacts conserved and interpreted, several interpretive guides produced, and dozens of new wayside exhibits developed.
While much of the context of the CVNHP is focused on the region’s rich history, the future conservation of the natural and cultural treasures of Lake Champlain relies on today’s youth. In recent years, the focus of the CVNHP has been on programs that encourage children and young adults to better understand their community’s cultural and natural heritage. In 2013, the CVNHP partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to enhance access for underserved children to board the replica canal schooner Lois McClure as it traveled the interconnected waterways of the heritage area. Last year, the CVNHP awarded 11 grants for projects that involved active participation from youth in the research and interpretation of their local heritage.
These grants resulted in many noteworthy projects, including dozens of oral history documentaries made by high-school students in Bennington County. Students in Middlebury, Vermont, collected oral histories from fur trappers in a project that included the documentation and replication of vintage trapping boats. Plattsburgh youth worked with museum professionals to develop an interpretive guide for the “Old Base.” Readers can learn more about other student-oriented programs on the CVNHP Facebook page.
Projects that focus on youth involvement will continue in 2015 with four new interpretive paddling routes sponsored by the CVNHP. In future years, the CVNHP will award Local Heritage grants that encourage students to explore and interpret their own communities. A generation from now, the health and integrity of the Champlain Valley’s natural and cultural resources will rely on a population that appreciates, understands and values them.