Paddle event raises awareness for Mount Grace canoe launch project

  • Around 20 paddlers paddled from Montague on the Connecticut River last week as part of an event organized by Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • Around 20 paddlers paddled from Montague on the Connecticut River last week as part of an event organized by Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • Kayakers paddle upstream last week from the proposed small boat launch off of Meadow Road in Montague. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Kayaks and canoes launch last week from the proposed small boat launch off of Meadow Road in Montague. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Kayaks and canoes paddle upstream last week from the proposed small boat launch off of Meadow Road in Montague. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Kayakers and canoeists wait to launch last week from the proposed small boat launch off of Meadow Road in Montague during an event organized by Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/25/2021 3:21:24 PM

MONTAGUE — Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust carried on a tradition held dear by the late Dr. Allen Ross last week by hosting a Connecticut River paddle event.

The event, held near the Montague resident’s former 2.3-acre property, attracted around 20 kayakers and canoeists who paddled upstream together. The paddle’s main purpose was to raise awareness for the eventual implementation of a canoe launch where Ross used to enter the river from his land.

The property on Meadow Road is in the process of being officially donated to Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust by Emma Ellsworth, its executive director and Ross’ daughter. Merchandise and Dean’s Beans coffee were sold riverside to help raise money for the project, which will be completed by volunteers.

During his time in Montague, Ross was a doctor, Selectboard member and avid canoeist. Ellsworth, who moved to Montague with her father when she was 4, said it “would’ve meant so much” to her dad to “have his canoe launch available for everybody.” She said the donation of his land to Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust would have been something he supported to achieve that goal.

“It wasn’t difficult,” Ellsworth said of the decision to donate the land. “It just felt natural. ... It was an organization that was really near and dear to his heart.”

Ellsworth explained that Ross, who served as treasurer of the land trust, initially purchased the property because it was set to be developed.

“He thought it was important to protect this magnificent stretch of the Connecticut River and not have cookie-cutter houses put in,” Ellsworth said.

The land where the canoe launch will be installed on Meadow Road is currently used by Red Fire Farm as farmland. Ellsworth said the land trust will preserve the fields, despite looking to bring more traffic to the area.

“It’s really important that we keep it in active agriculture,” she noted.

Having grown up in a family that loved canoeing, Ellsworth expressed excitement in being able to share “one of the more special sections of the Connecticut River” with the community.

“I think canoeing was kind of in the blood, but for me, canoeing is the most spectacular way to be out in nature,” she explained.

Others from Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust agreed.

“I think it’s a great way to honor the canoe access that has been going on for a while on the property,” Community Conservation Project Manager Aaron Nelson said.

“It’s definitely going to be a really great site once it’s ready,” Communications and Engagement Coordinator Marielena Lima said.

As of now, the wooded path to the riverbank remains tangled in a mess of branches. The land trust must raise $17,000 more and complete the land donation process before moving forward with preparing the canoe launch for public access.

“Right now, the whole plan for the canoe launch has not been finalized,” Lima said.

When the time comes, though, Ellsworth will take pride in her father’s legacy.

“As a doctor,” she said, “(the canoeing experience) was probably the best medicine he could have prescribed.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.




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