September 08, 2013
The White River Partnership (WRP) completed an innovative riverbank restoration project at Hurricane Flats Farm in South Royalton last week. 40 people attended a project tour on Sunday, September 8 to learn more about this innovative restoration project and to attend a picnic hosted by the farm to raise money for future WRP projects.
The 37-acre Hurricane Flats organic vegetable farm suffered severe damages during Tropical Storm Irene. Flood waters ruined crops; damaged greenhouses, irrigation systems, and farm equipment; deposited thousands of yards of sand in the fields; and eroded away several drainage ditches and two 150-foot holes in the riverbank.
According to WRP Executive Director Mary Russ, “This week’s project will complete work started in 2012 to restore 300-feet of eroding bank along the main stem of the White River. Our goal is to restore the riverbank using natural materials found on-site while improving water quality, habitat, and flood resiliency.”
Instead of using large rock to stabilize the riverbank, the WRP and its partners buried sections of whole trees with the roots attached. Once in place at the bottom of the bank, the exposed roots deflect water and debris away from the bank while creating habitat for fish.
To protect the bank above the exposed roots, the WRP and its partners installed coconut fabric filled with compacted soil held in place with native willow stakes harvested on-site. The native willow stakes will send out roots that will hold the soil in place once the coconut fabric decomposes.
Next spring, the WRP will recruit students and community volunteers to plant native trees and shrubs at the top of the bank. Along with the grasses that grow up around them, these trees and shrubs will filter nutrients out of water flowing across the farm fields, improving water quality in the White River.
To design, permit, implement, and fund the project, the WRP has convened a diverse group of partners, including the US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Greater Upper Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Clean Water Future donors, Vermont Watershed Grant, and local contractor Ben Canonica.