Class of 2008 Gift Forges the Trail
May 16, 2008
Nicole Lynch was hiking Kent’s Ledge last fall, making her way past the washed out sections of the popular trail and dodging the downed tree limbs when the thought came to her: Why not set out to clean up and maintain the trail for others? And the seeds were sown for the Kent’s Ledge Improvement Project, which would beat out the competition for class gift proposals from Vermont Law School’s Class of 2008.
“It’s unique,” says Lynch, JD/MSEL 2008, who by virtue of coming up with the idea also became chair of the Kent’s Ledge project. “It’s a completely new idea—and practical.”
VLS class gifts often come with an outdoors theme, such as the outdoor classroom offered by the Class of 2006 and the gazebo on the river bank that came before that. But restoring and preserving the Kent’s Ledge trail brought new challenges, as Lynch and her classmates quickly learned. The trail—popular with students and local residents—is located on land owned by the Prudential Water Board. The board is in charge of maintaining the water supply for South Royalton, so the improvement plan would require the board’s approval (which it received). And it meant reaching out to Mary Russ and the Royalton Conservation Commission, who also agreed to lend their support. Other partners included Dave Hardy of the Green Mountain Club, who as director of land stewardship, lent his expertise to the restoration project.
Then there was the fundraising. In addition to the costs associated with trail improvement, signs and future upkeep, the Class of 2008 agreed that its gift would help boost the VLS Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). The class set out in February with the goal of raising the $10,000 needed to receive a matching sum offered by VLS Trustee Glenn Berger, JD 1978. An anonymous donor also offered help, and in the end, the group hit the $28,000 mark.
On May 12, nearly a dozen members of the Class of 2008 hit the trail to begin work on the project. Armed with shovels, rakes, pickaxes and other assorted clearing tools and with Hardy’s oversight, they created a switchback near the top of the trail, cleared fallen trees and planned for future site work. An excavator will be brought up to create water bars and ditches to prevent the erosion that results in deep trenches. And the graduating class will work with a local woodworker to design small signs for the trail, which currently isn’t marked.
“When I first presented the plan, I didn’t realize how much work it was going to be, but it’s been nice,” says Lynch. “We’ve been able to work with a lot of people in the community to get it done.”