Friends of the Mad River

In 1990, the ski resort Sugarbush began plans to use water from the Mad River in VT to make snow at their resort. This plan to begin using the river for snowmaking concerned community members that valued the river for its beauty and recreational use. Therefore, an increased interest in the health and protection of the Mad River grew and in 1995 a group of volunteers formed the conservation group known as the Friends of the Mad River. These volunteers quickly created a conservation plan that included 120 management recommendations to help protect the beloved Mad River.

After the conservation plan was put into place, the Friends of the Mad River continued to operate out of a volunteer’s home and with only volunteer support until the year 2000 when the group was finally able to move to their own office. Additionally, after acquiring the office, Friends of the Mad River was able to hire a full-time executive director to devote as much time as possible to the protection of the river.

Presently, this group continues to work as a non-profit organization that is dedicated to protecting the Mad River through educating community members on reducing pollution through installing the proper septic systems, creating resource guides for teachers in local schools, and ultimately conserving the river in every way possible. Additionally, the organization collects and analyzes water samples from 40 different sites along the river to monitor water quality. This fieldwork, educational outreach and formation of a management plan for the Mad River are all working toward the ultimate conservation goal of the FMR, which is to enhance and improve the recreational, ecological, and community values of the Mad River watershed.

Project Contact: Corrie Miller
Project Contact Email:
Project Lifespan: 1990-present
Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren
Regional Planning Commision: Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission
Outreach, water, wetland
Project Accomplishments:

The Friends of the Mad River has monitored and protected the health of the Mad River and its watershed. Additionally, the group has been able to raise awareness in the community through outreach and education about the importance of the river and proper practices to reduce harmful pollution.

Project Partners:

Vermont Land Trust
Mad River Valley Planning District
Vermont Fish and Wildlife

Critical to Success:

The formation of Friends of the Mad River would not have been possible without the driving factor that motivated the whole formation. The threat of Sugarbush destroying the river through snowmaking was enough to gather community members and support. Additionally, the diverse number of people from different towns that were interested and involved in forming the group was critical to the group’s success as a whole.


The largest challenge faced by Friends of the Mad River involves their existence as a non-profit. Gaining funding for necessary projects and programs is an ongoing challenge for the group. Additionally, the lack of time that volunteers have on the day to day basis to get involved with organizing and planning events for the Friends of the Mad River is a continuing challenge. Most of the volunteers in the organization also have full time jobs aside from their volunteer work.