Projects Archive

4th river corridor easement on the Wild Branch completed

Monday, October 9th, 2017

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“They don’t call it the Wild Branch for nothing” say the landowners living along its banks in Wolcott.  Historic straightening and channeling have tried to tame the Wild Branch, but instead only increased the severity of damage when stormwater from heavy rain surges down this narrow river valley.

Many significant flooding events, especially in 1995 and 2011, have caused the Wild Branch to adjust and meander throughout its corridor – the river valley – moving water and sediment with it.  Bridges and culverts are replaced or enlarged after these floods, and development rights are bought from affected landowners through FEMA, but little is done to restore the river’s natural equilibrium.

In October 2017, VRC protected 12 more acres of open field and forested river banks along the Wild Branch, the 4th such easement in 3 years.  By protecting her land with a River Corridor Easement, Ms. McCrumb is joining with other landowners who will forever allow the river to reestablish equilibrium in its natural river corridor.  In partnership with Trees for Streams and the Lamoille County Natural Resource Conservation District, native trees and shrubs have been planted along the river’s bank to increase the riparian buffer where needed.  With over 51 acres of river corridor conserved, the Wild Branch might just be a little more wild, and a little less damaging.

 

Swimming made more accessible on the Williams River

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Chester is nestled in the Green Mountains, and a small pull-off on the Green Mountain Turnpike just a mile from the Village Center will lead you down a newly constructed path to the Williams River.  Locals call this beloved swimming hole “Rainbow Rock” after the large and striated bedrock outcrop that protrudes into the Williams River just downstream of its confluence with the Middle Branch.  And there forms a large, deep, cool water pool – perfect for swimming!

Most hot days in Chester will find a few locals swimming at Rainbow Rock, sometimes with their dogs, often with their kids or friends.  Other days find anglers casting a line, or a volunteer from the Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance collecting water samples.  And now walking down to the river’s edge is easier than ever before.

When the Vermont River Conservancy was first contacted by the landowners, the trail leading down to Rainbow Rock was a steep and direct pitch to the river, heavily eroded and festooned with exposed roots, a difficult descent for most.  And storm runoff would rush off Green Mountain Turnpike straight into the river.

Vermont River Conservancy, with funding support from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Fieldstone Foundation, Jane B. Cook Foundation, VRC Swimming Hole Fund, and the generous support of many local donors, and in partnership with the Town of Chester and the Chester Conservation Committee, conserved public access to forever keep this swimming hole open to the public.

Immediately after purchasing the property, conserving it, and transferring it to the Town of Chester, Vermont River Conservancy built a new trail with a gentler pitch, a switchback, and improved drainage.  Now Rainbow Rock is easier than ever to visit, and will always be accessible for all.

Keep Rainbow Rock open for all!

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Help Protect Chester’s Favorite Swimming Hole: Rainbow Rock    

Rainbow Rock

The Vermont River Conservancy seeks your support to protect public access to this community treasure—a beautiful swimming and fishing hole on the Williams River.

Located just off Green Mountain Turnpike, only a mile from the village center, Rainbow Rock is a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the Williams River, play and swim with friends and family, and cool down or cast a line.Map of Rainbow Rock Parcel

VRC has been offered the opportunity to purchase Rainbow Rock and protect access forever.  We ask for your help in protecting access now.

Once protected, the Town of Chester will own the permanently protected 1.84 acre property, and residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy Rainbow Rock for generations to come.

The Vermont River Conservancy has secured most of the $50,000 in funding needed from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and private foundations.

Now we need $2,000 by the end of August to ensure Rainbow Rock is protected forever.

Help us protect this community treasure: donate to Rainbow Rock today!

Please join this community effort to buy the land, conserve it with a public access easement, improve accessibility with natural stone steps, and ensure it is well maintained for all to enjoy.

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.”

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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.

50 acres conserved along the Upper Connecticut River

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

The Vermont River Conservancy, collaborating with the Ellingwood-White family, has conserved 50 acres of land along the Upper Connecticut River in Lemington, Vermont – nearly 2/3 of a mile of river frontage! The parcels are adjacent to Holbrook Point, already conserved by the VRC, a project completed with the Ellingwood family in 2013.

Through a unique arrangement, the purchase of the easement allowed the Ellingwood family to simultaneously purchase the lands, ensuring they will remain in productive agricultural use while protecting the vital ecological and public access values associated with the site. The conservation easement allows for continued agricultural and silvicultural use, but prohibits development, protects wetlands, establishes a riparian buffer zone, and prevent river bank modifications.

The easement also permanently protects public access for anglers and other dispersed recreational users and allows for the designation of a site for canoe camping as part of the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail should use at the nearby Holbrook Point campsite exceed its current capacity. Public access to the site is intended to be primarily from the Connecticut River.

This project was funded through a grant from the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund and contributions to the Reggie Ellingwood Memorial fund.

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40 acres on the New Haven River, Conserved

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

When the Town of Bristol, its Conservation Commission, the New Haven Anglers Association, the Agency of Natural Resources Rivers Program, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and the Vermont River Conservancy work together to promote flood resiliency and public access to rivers in Vermont, a lot can happen!  Partnering with local farmers and landowners, the Saunders Brothers, this team of concerned river scientists and conservationists identified how to protect the New Haven River, and the people who live and farm along its banks.

Acting as a relief valve for the high-energy waters flowing out of the steep Green Mountains and down into the low-gradient Bristol Flats area, these newly conserved 40-acres downstream of Bristol village allow for the river to move, flood, and change course naturally.  Protecting open floodplains where river energy is high is critical to ensure these river lands remain undeveloped and people stay out of harms way.

Selling land was heartbreaking for the Saunders brothers – they had never sold any family land before – but understanding their options were limited for farming in an active floodplain, it made the most sense.  They will continue to hay the land they’ve always managed through a lease with new landowners, the Town of Bristol, but when the floodwaters of the New Haven River rise again, the Saunders brothers won’t break the bank trying to keep the land in production.

Located immediately upstream from 14-acres recently conserved by VRC, these adjoining properties will support and enhance the flood resiliency benefits of both.  

Over time, the New Haven will provide paddlers, anglers and neighbors with hours of enjoyment.  And the land can continue to function as a relief valve for the high energy waters that periodically surge through Bristol Flats.  VRC, together with the state partners, have protected these river lands for flood resiliency and public river recreation.  The land was donated to the Town of Bristol to keep the character of Bristol Flats alive while allowing the river to move and change as it will.  Bristol Flats is a win-win for flood resiliency, farmers, towns and river recreationalists.

Journey’s End swimming hole now protected!

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Congratulations!  With tremendous community and foundation support, “Journey’s End” swimming hole in Johnson VT is now protected for all to enjoy.

“Journey’s End” is a spectacular swimming hole and waterfall carved in the bedrock of Foote Brook, a cold water, steep stream flowing to the Lamoille River.

The land adjoining the falls was on the market as a house lot, and could have been posted with “No Trespassing” signs.  By conserving this land, VRC has permanently protected public access to the Journey’s End swimming hole, provided access for anglers to a 2,500 foot reach of Foote Brook renowned for its high quality trout habitat, and conserved 25 acres along Foote Brook containing deer yards, songbird habitat, and forested buffer which protects the ecological values of Foote Brook.

The Town of Johnson is now the long-term owner of this beautiful area, and will manage it as a natural and recreational area for Johnson residents and visitors to enjoy in all seasons.  The Vermont River Conservancy holds a conservation easement to assure that permanent access continues and that the 25 acres remain in their natural condition.

Many thanks to all who contributed to this success!  The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board provided major funding.  Additional support was provided by the Fields Pond Foundation, the Vermont Community Foundation Green Mountain Fund, the Lintilhac Foundation, Rock Art Brewery, Concept 2, G.W. Tatro Construction, Johnson State College Student Government, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife Public Access grant, the Vermont State Employees Credit Union, and the VRC Canute Dalmasse Legacy Fund, along with over 120 individual donors who cherish this special place.  Thank you for joining this important effort to keep Journey’s End available for all.  We couldn’t have done it without you.

Additional support for Journey’s End is welcomed to enhance the Vermont River Conservancy’s stewardship of this beautiful site in perpetuity.  Please Donate today to support our efforts to help the Town of Johnson manage this property.

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Just Conserved: 14 acres on the New Haven

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Vermont River Conservancy just protected 14 acres on the New Haven River, with landowner Paul Fuller.  new_haven_riverbed

The New Haven River is an active example of how geology and hydrology interact, what river scientists call fluvial geomorphology.  The New Haven drains down the steep western slopes of the Green Mountains, and as it transitions from a powerful high-gradient headwater stream to a slower, lower-gradient valley river it releases a lot of energy by flooding across the land where this slope transition happens.  River scientists identified this property as important for mitigating the power of floods and for protecting downstream lands and infrastructure.

The 14.7 acres of the Fuller property covered by the easement was flooded during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, and likely by previous storms.  Sand and cobble were deposited across the property’s fields during Irene, helping minimize downstream impacts from the flooding.  The river has now returned to its historic channel at the edge of the Fuller property, but will likely re-channelize through the protected property with future flood events.  Because farming this land was made difficult and unpredictable by its proximity to the New Haven, a river corridor easement allows VRC and the landowner to manage the property for riparian vegetation and river meandering – vital functions in a healthy river system.

Sign up now for a work day on the Connecticut River!

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Volunteers are needed to help the Vermont River Conservancy revitalize the windyhurst campsite, in Westmoreland, NH, on Saturday, May 4th.

Join us for a work party where we will be constructing a privy, picnic table, register box, and installing signage. Lunch will be included. Volunteers are invited to bring their paddling gear and join us for a celebratory afternoon paddle.

Date: Saturday, May 4, 2013
Host: Vermont River Conservancy
Location: Westmoreland, NH (approximately 10 miles from Brattleboro)
To sign up: Please RSVP to Noah Pollock (noah@vermontriverconservancy.org) by Thursday May 2nd.

The Nops help conserve the Neshobe

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Warren, William and John Nop jointly run a large dairy farm in Addison and Rutland counties.  And they are helping protect the Neshobe River’s natural meandering and flooding processes while protecting downstream infrastructure.  This March, the Nop Brothers permanently conserved portions of the Neshobe.

Extensively flooded during tropical storm Irene, the Nop brothers found some of their crop fields almost impossible to keep farming.  As this photo shows, the Neshobe created large flood chutes to release its energy after descending the steep slopes of the Greens and entering the low gradient river valley.  Located adjacent to the Dilts property, also conserved by VRC – these two conserved parcels will help ensure the Neshobe has open land to flood so the river’s energy can dissipate before entering the downstream village of Brandon.

Funded by the  VT Agency of Natural Resources Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program

 

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