As the East Branch of the Ausable River flows from its source in the Adirondack High Peaks, it courses through rapids, gorges and stretches of wide, flat water on its way to Lake Champlain.
On Sept. 16, bicyclists will get to see these changes first-hand in the first-ever Ride for the River fundraiser.
The 37-mile ride will begin at 9 a.m. at the Ausable Club in Keene Valley and end with a picnic at Ausable Chasm in Keeseville.
Funds raised from the event will benefit the Ausable River Association, a non-profit community-sponsored organization that works with local landowners, scientists and state agencies to promote education and responsible management of the Ausable River watershed.
Through community outreach and scientific research, the association works to establish plans that are in everyone’s best interests, all while keeping the interests of the river a top priority.
The culmination of this process will be the completion of a five-year study resulting in a watershed management plan, which will discuss the importance of the river to the region and identify threats to the river from pollution to storms.
Currently, the management plan is still in draft form and can be read on the association’s website. Once completed, it will include recommendations for protecting the Ausable based on the scientific data and community input collected.
“It’s important because state agencies focus on the entire state,” said Corrie Miller, executive director of the Ausable River Association. “Our management plan can write about what specific projects are needed in the area.”
She added that the association can help focus state agencies, like the Department of Environmental Conservation, and push for the completion of area-specific projects.
“We want to make sure the river is looked after, but more so, we are about education,” Miller said.
Recently, the association hosted two workshops to restore 2,800 feet of riverbank at Rivermede Farms in Keene Valley.
The workshops were open to the public, and representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were on hand to educate people about the ecology of the Ausable River and the benefit of bank restoration.
An upcoming event will focus on planting trees to stabilize the riverbank, but a date has yet to be set for that.
The date for Ride for the River is set in stone, though.
“Now we’re in the 20s for registered cyclists,” Miller said. “I think some people are waiting to register to see what the weather will be like, but we’re riding rain or shine.”
People who don’t register online can do so the day of the event as long as they pay using cash or check.
Registration for the ride will begin at 8 a.m. at the Noonmark Mountain trailhead on Ausable Club Rd. in Keene Valley. It is $40 for Ausable River Association members, $50 for non-members, and $25 for ages 17 and younger.
The cost includes the finish-line picnic, a Ride for the River T-shirt and other swag.
All funds that do not go toward paying for the event will go to the river association.
“The way we live, recreate and work in this region has a lot to do with the character of the river valley,” Miller said. “I think it’s important to protect what the river does for us.”
For more information about the ride, visit ridefortheriver.org, and visit ausableriver.org for more information about the Ausable River Association.