Guest Blogger: Brendan Wiltse, Ph.D. - Science and Stewardship Director, Ausable River Association
They say life is all about the ride, right?
Well, whoever “they” may be, they certainly haven’t experienced Ride for the River, an annual road bicycle tour showcasing the stunning Ausable River watershed in the heart of the Adirondacks.
Sure, it has all the elements of your standard group day ride:
- Clearly marked ride distances of 5, 30, and 60 miles – Check.
- Water stops – Check.
- Finish line BBQ with live music – Check.
- Craft beer – Check. Check. And Check.
So, what’s the Ride for the River difference?
Easy. The river.
Not only does this Sunday, July 16 event showcase some of the most spectacular roads in the Adirondacks, it highlights the natural value of the Ausable River watershed through interactive rest stops where Ausable River Association (AsRA) scientists educate cyclists about the impacts of road salt, invasive species and undersized culverts.
More specifically, here are five reasons why we think you should Ride for the River.
Top 5 Reasons to Ride
1. Clean Water
Clean water is a vital to both human and natural communities. The Ausable River, its tributaries, watershed lakes, and groundwater serve as a source of drinking water to over 20,000 full-time residents and approximately a million annual visitors and seasonal homeowners. These water sources support one of the best riverine cold-water fisheries in the state and a diversity of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The long-term health of these communities relies heavily on the health of the Ausable River.
2. Healthy Streams
A healthy, free-flowing stream, with diverse habitats, capable of maintaining its pattern and structure even during a flood event, has many interrelated essential components. To achieve healthy Ausable streams, AsRA evaluates stream systems – considering the human communities around them – and implements projects that help streams regain their geomorphic potential while also benefiting wildlife habitat, flood resilience, and water quality.
3. Diverse Habitats
Diversity builds resilience, in both natural and human communities. Maintaining habitat diversity within the Ausable River watershed helps maintain ecological integrity and reduce the risk of threats such as climate change. Fundamental to that goal is understanding the desired outcome. In many cases, that is to preserve the species and ecological communities native to the watershed. This goal relies on the belief there is inherent and intrinsic value in these ecological communities. In some ways that value is directly realized through ecosystem services provided to human communities. These include clean water, raw materials such as wood and wood fiber, and food such as deer and fish.
4. Public Use and Enjoyment of the River
Public access and low-impact recreational opportunities and uses of the river are essential to enjoying the river and protecting it. At the same time, uses must be sustainable and not harm delicate banks, riparian health, wildlife habitat, and water quality, or require changes to the river’s hydrology or structure.
AsRA promotes existing low impact recreation throughout the watershed, using our website to identify area waterfalls and public hiking trails in the watershed. The next step is to ensure or expand public access to the river and help develop new recreational opportunities from strolling or bicycling a porous path on a verdant floodplain, to stabilized bank access for fishing and swimming, and put-ins for canoes.
5. An Informed and Engaged Public
Public stewardship is the key to maintaining the health of the Ausable River watershed long-term. As an organization, AsRA helps the community learn about and respond to the river. We share the data and information we gather, and help the community effectively address new and emerging threats. But these threats will re-emerge if the residents and visitors don’t take an active role in stewardship of the watershed. Engaging the community in this active way is arguably the most important task if we want to achieve AsRA’s specific goals. At the same time, ongoing engagement by watershed residents and visitors is also the least tangible of our goals, complex to achieve and difficult to maintain.
6 Great Years of Cycling & Counting
Ride for the River was created by AsRA in 2012 to celebrate the resilience of local communities following the devastating flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene. Now in its sixth year, the 2017 ride is enhanced by a partnership with Cycle Adirondacks, a premier road cycling tour company best known for its annual award winning fully supported weeklong tour of the Adirondacks.
Ready to ride the ride? Register now to Ride for the River 2017.
About the author and organizers:
Author: Brendan Wiltse, Ph.D. - Science and Stewardship Director, Ausable River Association
As the Science & Stewardship Director, Brendan’s focus is on water quality monitoring. Brendan holds a B.Sc. from Paul Smith's College and a Ph.D. from Queen's University. His academic training focused on the ecological history of lakes and their historical response to climate change. Brendan is interested in using science to inform policy decisions that help protect the Ausable River watershed and in educating the public on issues facing the river. When he isn't working on these issues, you will likely find him on an Adirondack peak at sunrise, camera in hand, his dog Khyber by his side.
Ausable River Association
Since 1998, the Ausable River Association (AsRA) has been working cooperatively with landowners, municipalities, and government agencies to conserve the valued resources of the Ausable watershed. We provide scientific expertise, engage stakeholders in responsible river stewardship, and foster collaboration and information sharing among organizations, universities, government agencies, local businesses, and individuals who care about the Ausable River. AsRA identifies and implements balanced conservation solutions that emphasize the importance of a healthy Ausable River for sustainable and resilient watershed communities. ausableriver.org
Cycle Adirondacks mission is to grow and support bicycle tourism in New York’s Adirondack Park. Its flagship event is an annual award winning, fully supported weeklong road cycling tour. The 2017 weeklong tour is scheduled for August 19-25 with a start and finish location of Schroon Lake and overnight stops in Keene Valley and Saranac Lake. Now in its third year, the event is recognized as one of the most well organized, most amenity-rich, all-inclusive, fun and relaxing bicycle tours in North America. cycleadirondacks.com
Cycling photo: Nancie Battaglia
Additional photos: Brendan Wiltse