A landscape photo featuring two large downed pine trees and the remnants of a trail kiosk.

The remnants of the Horseshoe Bend trail kiosk. Photo: Meghan Lee-Hall/Audubon Vermont


Weathering the Storm

How has a changing climate affected Green Mountain Audubon Center?

This year, Green Mountain Audubon Center celebrates sixty years of welcoming and educating the public. Founded in 1964 by Bob Spear, Christine Hires, and the Green Mountain Audubon Society, the Center is currently operated by Audubon Vermont, a state office of the National Audubon Society. We welcome thousands of visitors every year to explore our trails, attend our nature education programs, and sample syrup from our Bird-Friendly Sugarbush. More than a few visitors have described their experience at GMAC as magical. We aim to inspire our community to help us protect birds and the places they need today and tomorrow. 

But a rapidly changing climate has given rise to new obstacles and challenges. Stronger and more frequent storms have already impacted our Center. In the past decade, they have destroyed footbridges, washed away trails and forever altered the landscape.  Summer 2023 brought wildfire smoke and record rainfall. While our property was largely spared from the summer’s flooding, our neighbors and community were deeply affected. We were proud to offer a space for our community to connect to nature and heal. We held bird walks and other events despite the rain with umbrellas and ponchos at the ready. Our tenacious educators adapted activities and lesson plans to ensure our campers still had an amazing summer camp experience. We were ready to wind down for winter after a historic summer, but mother nature had other plans.

Winter brought devastating windstorms and more flooding. Unfortunately, our beloved trails suffered significant damage. Heavy rainfall and flooding caused major erosion on the Huntington River’s banks, already weakened from previous storms. A section of the River Trail on the West side was completely washed away. Back-to-back windstorms toppled trees throughout the property, blocking popular trails and destroying the trail kiosk at Horseshoe Bend.

Flood waters in December rose over the boulder at Horseshoe Bend. Photo: Meghan Lee-Hall/Audubon Vermont
The bank along the West side of the River Trail experienced heavy erosion. Photo: Meghan Lee-Hall/Audubon Vermont
A portion of the River Trail was completely washed away and will be re-routed. This trail section is currently closed. Photo: Audubon Vermont
The same section of trail from October 2023. Photo: Meghan Lee-Hall/Audubon Vermont
Bank erosion along River Trail East. Photo: Meghan Lee-Hall/Audubon Vermont
The sole remaining post from the Horseshoe Bend kiosk, destroyed by fallen trees. Photo: Meghan Lee-Hall/Audubon Vermont
Many trees fell on the White Pine Trail. We have since cleared a path. Photo: Meghan Lee-Hall/Audubon Vermont

1 of 7

Moving Forward

Plans for recovery and increasing resiliency to future storms are already underway. This fall, Audubon Vermont’s Forest Program Senior Associate Tim Duclos completed a comprehensive 10-year forest management plan for the Center. The plan lays out steps we can take to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Right now, our dedicated staff are working to clear the debris left by December’s storms. Our Junior Conservation Technicians are planning to repair and reroute the River Trail further away from the bank, in hopes to protect it from future erosion.

How can you help?

We are deeply grateful for the support of our members and community. Here are some ways you can help us:

-Donate to the Green Mountain Audubon Center. Your contribution will support our Center, its trails, and our education programs. 

-Hike with care! We are still in the process of cleaning up and repairing our trails and there may be debris. Some trails may be closed until they are rerouted or cleared. Please stay on marked trails and keep pets leashed. Stay away from riverbanks/edges as they may be eroded or unstable. Trail condition notices are posted at our kiosks and at our Visitor Center.

-Volunteer with us! We will need extra help with trail maintenance this spring and summer. Check out our Adopt-A-Trail Program and our other volunteer opportunities. If you would like to donate professional tree services or excavating services, please contact our Center Director Kim Guertin. 

How you can help, right now