The WRP has developed the following tips to help landowners along the river improve water quality, restore fish habitat, and reduce flood damage on their property.
Many pollutants found in the river come from our own backyards. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides can cause health problems in humans and wildlife – follow the instructions on the label carefully to prevent additional runoff. Failing septic systems can pollute groundwater and the river – have your septic system pumped and serviced every 3 to 5 years to guarantee proper function. Products used for your car and cleaning your house can be toxic when not properly handled – visit your solid waste district website to learn how to safely dispose of motor oil, antifreeze, batteries and household chemicals.
Trees and shrubs along the riverbank provide food, habitat and shade for fish and wildlife. Their roots help stabilize the bank and trap pollutants that could otherwise wash into the river. And trees that fall into the river create fish habitat and can help reduce erosion by slowing flow. Protecting existing trees and planting new native trees and shrubs 35-feet deep on your riverbank will provide these wildlife and water quality benefits. Contact us to learn about free native trees and shrubs available to qualifying landowners.
Trout and other fish depend on the entire river system for survival, so connecting upstream and downstream habitats is important. Culverts under roads and bridges allow fish and other aquatic life to move from one habitat to another. Modifying or replacing culverts to improve fish passage connects vital habitats and increases native fish populations. Technical and financial assistance is available to qualifying landowners who want to improve fish and wildlife habitat on their property.
Farms and forests make up a majority of the White River watershed – 84% of the watershed is forested and 7% is devoted to farming. As a result, land use practices on watershed farms and forests have a large impact on water quality. Implementing best management practices can help improve water quality and habitat in the White River. Assistance is available to farm and forest landowners who want to implement these practices.
In addition to enjoying the many benefits of the White River directly, waterfront landowners may make alterations to the river itself – to restore an eroding bank; to withdraw water; to erect a bridge; or to make other improvements. A permit may be required to ensure that these alterations are done in a way that helps the landowner and the river. Assistance is available to identify the appropriate permit for your project.
Non-native invasive plants, like Japanese knotweed and wild chervil, grow along the White River, but do not provide the same habitat and water quality benefits as native trees and shrubs. And in some cases, non-native invasive plants can cause human health problems. Learn how to identify and manage non-native invasive plants on your property by visiting the Vermont Invasives website.
Rivers are dynamic – they flood, change course, and erode their banks within their natural corridor. As a result, man-made structures, like roads and buildings, may be damaged when the river floods. Identifying opportunities to reduce conflicts with the river on your property can save you time and money over the long-term. Learn how much of your property lies within the floodplain by looking at the flood maps in your town office; then consider making modifications to accommodate natural flooding in those areas.