New deal preserves Journey’s End access for future generations

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New deal preserves Journey’s End access for future generations

On the way to Journey's End

On the way to Journey's End

Kayla Friedrich

On the way to Journey's End

Kayla Friedrich

Kayla Friedrich

On the way to Journey's End

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Thanks to a soon-to-be-inked agreement, a popular local swimming hole will remain open to the public.

Journey’s End swimming hole will be owned by the town of Johnson in partnership with the Vermont River Conservancy (VRC) and the Johnson Conservation Commission within the next few weeks, thanks to local support.

Journey’s End is nestled in the woods of Johnson just a short walk off of Plot Road and has been on the market for the past two years. During that time, the VRC has been taking donations from local businesses and individuals alike in an effort to purchase the 30-acre property.

The location, with its cold-water stream running to the Lamoille River, a deep pool with three 8-foot cascades above it, two jumping cliffs 15-feet and 8-feet high, several undercut ledges, and a wading pool, has been a popular spot for Johnson residents, Johnson State College students, and Vermont Studio Center students to swim, fish, bird-watch and relax for decades.

The VRC began looking at acquiring the property to preserve public access, fearing new owners might restrict public use.

“The idea is that it’ll stay as pristine as possible and also be available for hiking, snowshoeing, swimming, bird-watching and a lot of other activities,” says Assistant Director of the VRC Lydia Menendez. “Everyone’s love will keep it pristine and enjoyable for all.”

Although fundraising efforts officially came to a close Friday, Aug. 31, and the VRC fell short of its goal of $223,000 by 4 percent, Executive Director Steve Libby says it has enough money to purchase the property. The next step is to assemble all legal documents, which will then need to be signed by the VRC, the Town of Johnson, the Johnson Conservation Commission and the current owner to complete the transaction.

The VRC is also still accepting donations for Journey’s End, so that it can create a small parking area on Plot Road as well as improve the trail from the road, and put a sign by the swimming hole listing the contributors who made the acquisition possible

The list includes the Johnson State College Student Association, which made a $1000 contribution last semester.

“The swimming hole has been kept up very well,” says Libby. “In terms of long-term management we’d like to involve JSC in stewardship.”

The town of Johnson has agreed to become long-term owner of the property with the Johnson Conservation Commission serving as steward. Menendez will be on the JSC campus in September to talk to Director of Experiential Education Ellen Hill as well as eight other faculty members hoping to get students involved with site work via environmental science classes.

The area, Menendez says, may also lend itself well to science labs and other projects that would get the JSC community involved.

“We are excited to have it preserved for public use as it is now, and if anyone would like to get involved they can talk to the Johnson Conservation Commission,” said Menendez.

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