Alumnus helps pass VT river preservation bill

Scott Murphy, News Editor

After a decade of work, the efforts of John Little ’82 to preserve the Missisquoi River in northern Vermont paid off with Congress’ passing of a bill designating the river as “wild and scenic.”

After graduating Saint Anselm in 1982 with a degree in bio-medicine, Little took up a teaching position in the sciences in northern Vermont, and occupation which he still holds.

He enjoys numerous outdoor activities, specifically canoing various bodies of water in Vermont and Canada.

Little explained that rivers that are recognized as wild, scenic and/or recreational are exempt from federal property ownership and makes federal funds available for preservation efforts.

The idea was first presented to Little at a 2004 River Rally in Virginia, which he attended as a representative of the Missisquoi River Basin Association.

In August of that year, Little invited three members of National Park Services to examine specific sections of the river that he felt fit the description of “Wild and scenic.”

With support from the NPS, the next step was for Little to gain the support of each of the ten towns that the sections of river ran through in order to gain approval to petition the government to fund an official three year wild and scenic study.

This process took roughly two years to complete due to each towns’ conflicting schedules.

After Little presented a River Management Plan for the Missisquoi to these towns and recieved approval, Little then sought congressional approval for the petition, which occured in 2008.

The study concluded in the Fall of 2011, at which point Little had to revisit each of the ten towns for final approval.

Of the original ten towns, seven approved the final findings of the study.

A final petition accompanied by the towns’ approval and the findings of the study were sent to Congress in 2012.

One and a half years later, at the end of last year, the bill was passed as a part of the 16,000 page defense spending bill, with the piece about the Missisquoi located on page 14,011.

Little then shared that the passing of the bill has now prompted the creation of an official committee which will oversee federal funds and determine how they will be used to preserve the Missisquoi River.