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.

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