Support Johnson’s Beard / Gihon River Swim Park

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Public access to a favorite swimming hole on the Gihon River, in the downtown village of Johnson Vermont, is in jeopardy.

In 2014, the civic-minded Beard family contacted the Vermont River Conservancy about selling their 2 acre parcel, but wanted public access protected.  The Town of Johnson stepped forward to be the long term owner of the land, if the Vermont River Conservancy can acquire the property and permanently protect public access with a Conservation Easement. Beard Swimming Hole

The Beard River Swim Park is located within walking distance from the Johnson Elem
entary School, Johnson State College, the Vermont Studio Center, and the village’s downtown center.  The 2 acre parcel has been a traditional swimming hole for visitors and residents of Johnson village for generations.  If sold, a private purchaser would very likely develop the parcel for residential use and prohibit public access, given the parcel’s ideal downtown location and it’s open, flat characteristics.

With approximately 600 feet of river frontage, this parcel possesses beautiful shoreline, waterfalls, and swimming spots along the Gihon River.  There is a rock ledge outcropping in the river that 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 parcel, if maintained as open floodplain, can help mitigate flood damage to the downstream village structures.

VRC secured a purchase and sale agreement with the landowners, and has partnered with the Town of Johnson to raise $120,000 to complete this project.  $111,000 is already secured from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Vermont Housing Conservation Board, Fields Pond Foundation, and generous local businesses and individual donors.  $9,000 remains left to raise.

Help us permanently protect public access to this property by donating to this project today.  Help keep it a recreational area open for swimming, picnicking, field games, nature enjoyment, bird watching, fishing, community gatherings, and relaxation.  Help us protect this special place and maintain the community character and healthy nature of the Gihon River and Johnson Village for generations to come.

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