Beard Recreation Park protected!

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Beard Swimming Hole

For generations, local residents and visitors of Johnson VT have enjoyed a beautiful, Olympic-sized swimming hole and a beaucolic open field and beach along the Gihon River.  In 2014, as the Beard family prepared to sell it, they contacted the Vermont River Conservancy.  VRC’s mission is to protect public access to the special lands along our waters, and the Beard family wished for public access to be preserved in honor of their parents, Florence and Hubert Beard.

With approximately 600 feet of river frontage, this parcel possesses beautiful shoreline, waterfalls, and swimming spots along the Gihon River. A rock ledge outcropping in the river creates a deep swimming “pool” with an extensive sand and gravel beach – suitable for swimmers of all ages and abilities. The bedrock also forms beautiful waterfalls and cascades in the Gihon River channel.

The property is located on School Street just below the Powerhouse Covered Bridge, within walking distance from the Johnson Elementary School, Johnson State College, the Vermont Studio Center, and the village’s downtown center. On the open market, a private purchaser would very likely have built a house and prohibited public access, given the parcel’s ideal downtown location.

Partnering with the Town of Johnson, the Vermont River Conservancy secured major funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, with additional funds raised from private foundations, local businesses, Johnson State College, and generous local residents.  With so much support for the protection of this beautiful place, the Town of Johnson purchased the property this December, and donated a Conservation Easement to the Vermont River Conservancy.  This land will now forever be accessible to the public as the “Beard Recreation Park.”

Lois-Frey_fall_Beard

Swimming here on the Gihon River has been enjoyed for generations

Additional funding has been secured from the Lake Champlain Basin Program for VRC to build attractive and sturdy stone steps to improve access from the upper field to the beach and rivers’ edge this coming summer 2016.  When the warmer weather returns, enjoy swimming, picnicking, field games, nature enjoyment, bird watching, fishing, community gatherings, and relaxation at this beautiful place.

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