Happy New Year from the WRP! Despite the cold temps and ice on the river, there are still plenty of ways to get involved in our work in 2020:
The WRP and 5 Olde Tavern in South Royalton invite you to enjoy a great dinner for a good cause on Monday, January 27. Eat dinner anytime between 5pm and 9pm and 5 Olde will donate 10% of your food purchases to support WRP work in 2020.
RSVP to info[at]whiteriverpartnership.org to join the WRP Board of Directors table at 6pm (optional).
The WRP posts information about on-the-ground watershed improvement projects, events, and volunteer opportunities on Facebook and Instagram. We invite you to “Like” or “Follow” us in order to stay posted on our work to improve the long-term health of the White River and its watershed.
The WRP also distributes a monthly electronic newsletter to share information about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, project updates, and more. We invite you to sign-up to receive our monthly e-newsletter by completing the form on the right-hand side of this webpage.
The new White River Watershed Recreation Map & Guide is hot-off-the-presses! The WRP worked with several partners to create a printed, waterproof map that highlights access points, paddling trips, tubing routes, fishing tips, hiking trails, and more along the White River and its five major tributaries: First Branch, Second Branch, Third Branch, West Branch, and Tweed River – nearly 110 miles of river exploration!
Proceeds from the sale of the map will support our efforts to protect and improve the White River Water Trail.
Maps are on sale now for $7.95/each plus shipping & handling. Follow this link to buy your copy today!
The WRP depends on contributions of time and money to support our on-the-ground work in the watershed. Please support our good work by becoming a member today!
Select the “Donate” button on the right-hand side of this page to donate via PayPal.
Or print and return our WRP Membership Form with a check.
Please contact us for more information about our projects, upcoming events, or other ways to get involved!
WRP staff and local Trout Unlimited volunteers delivered 1,600 brook trout eggs to White River valley schools today to kick-off the 2020 Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program!
Students will raise brook trout in chilled tanks in their classrooms through the winter months to learn more about early trout development and anatomy, habitat, water chemistry, life cycles, and more. In the spring students and teachers will release the brook trout fry into the river in locations approved by VT Fish & Wildlife.
The brook trout eggs started their journey at the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Fish Hatchery in Chittenden. Hatchery staff placed eggs into yogurt containers for safe passage, which WRP staff and Trout Unlimited volunteers delivered to 16 schools across the White River watershed.
Each school had prepared to receive 100 brook trout eggs by filling a 30-gallon, insulated fish tank and chilling the water to 43 degrees F. Students transferred the eggs from the yogurt container into “net breeders,” which are small nets suspended at the top of the tank. Eggs will remain in the nets until they hatch, usually in 3-5 weeks.
TIC is a program sponsored nationally by Trout Unlimited (TU), at the state level by the TU VT Council, and locally by regional TU chapters. In the White River watershed, the WRP partners with the Greater Upper Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited (GUVTU) to engage watershed schools in TIC as part of our Monitoring the White River education program.
Thanks to everyone who helped make the 2020 TIC kick-off a success, including WRP staff, Ed Finley from GUVTU, the folks at the Eisenhower Hatchery, Joe Mark from the TU VT Council, and all of the participating schools, teachers, and students!
The WRP released the White River Watershed Recreation Map & Guide in 2019. The map was the result of several years of work with partners to create a printed, waterproof map that highlights access points, paddling trips, tubing routes, fishing tips, hiking trails, and more along the White River and its five major tributaries: First Branch, Second Branch, Third Branch, West Branch, and Tweed River – nearly 110 miles of river exploration!
The online map includes a different link for five areas highlighted on the printed map, including:
White River main stem – Granville to White River Junction
First Branch – Chelsea to the White River
Second Branch – Kingsbury Covered Bridge to the White River
Third Branch – Riford Brook Road to the White River
Tweed River – Pittsfield village to the White River
Follow this link for more information about the White River Water Trail and stewardship opportunities in 2020!
THANK YOU to our 2019 water quality monitoring volunteers, to the businesses and partners who stored water samples in 2019, and to Vermont Water Quality Division staff and partners who help us analyze our data and plan for the upcoming sampling season!
For more information, please visit our Water Quality Monitoring Program page.
An innovative project to restore fish passage on Pomfret’s Mill Brook is complete.
The WRP, working with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Greater Upper Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and town of Pomfret, installed 29 rubber baffles inside the first stream-crossing culvert on Mill Brook in late-August to provide fish passage upstream.
This is the first, large-scale installation of these extruded, rubber baffles in the eastern United States.
The first stream-crossing culvert on Mill Brook is located under Pomfret Road near the intersection with White River Lane. The site is just upstream of the brook’s confluence with the White River main stem, which passes under the West Hartford Bridge about ½ mile downstream.
Access to the culvert is easy. There’s a small parking area on White River Lane adjacent to the culvert outlet. And there’s a trail from the parking area to Mill Brook across land protected by The Nature Conservancy as part of their White River Ledges Natural Area.
On any given day in the summer time you can find at least one car in the parking area. Local fisherman know this is a great place to fish – for good reason.
According to WRP Watershed Restoration Manager Greg Russ, Pomfret’s Mill Brook is an important spawning tributary in the White River watershed. “Its 12-square-mile drainage boasts cold, clean water and a diversity of feeding and spawning areas, ” says Russ. “And its location in the lower portion of the watershed makes it accessible to wild rainbow trout moving upstream from both the White River main stem as well as the Connecticut River.”
For these reasons providing fish passage to Mill Brook has been a high priority for local, state, and federal conservation partners. But ensuring fish passage has proven challenging in this location.
The first stream-crossing culvert on Mill Brook is long, tall, and steep. 184-feet-long by 16-feet-high by 15-feet-wide, the corrugated steel pipe was installed at a 6 percent slope.
Despite its large dimensions, the culvert is considered “under-sized.” This means the width of the culvert is smaller than the width of the stream. Mill Brook is 39-feet-wide at its confluence with the White River, making the 15-foot-wide culvert only 38 percent as wide as the stream channel.
The under-sized culvert restricts water flowing downstream and the result is similar to putting your thumb over the end of a water hose: the water moves at extremely high speed. This creates a “velocity barrier,” preventing fish and other aquatic species from swimming upstream.
Velocity barriers are especially problematic for rainbow trout, which need to move upstream in spring – during seasonal, high water flows – to access spawning areas.
Luckily there are options for addressing velocity barriers. Replacing an under-sized culvert with a larger structure is one option. But when replacement isn’t feasible, “retrofitting” an under-sized culvert can provide for fish passage.
Baffles are one retrofit option. Installed on the bottom of an under-sized culvert, perpendicular to the water flow, baffles interrupt the fast-moving water and create pockets of quiet water at regular intervals.
Fish can then move upstream, swimming from one pocket of quiet water to the next. In this way baffles allow fish to navigate through an under-sized culvert that would otherwise be impassable.
The extruded, rubber baffles installed in the first stream-crossing culvert on Mill Brook are low profile – just 6-inches-high by 5-feet-long. Project partners installed them every 6 feet, inside the corrugations to protect the attachment points, creating 30 pockets of quiet water along the 184-foot culvert length.
Developed originally for installation in New Zealand river systems, the rubber baffles are sturdy enough to interrupt the water flow, but flexible enough to bend over when hit with debris.
According to Russ, “Large rocks and boulders moving through the Mill Brook culvert are the biggest threat to the retrofit project, so partners are excited to see how the rubber baffles fare.”
Retrofit projects are not permanent solutions and the Mill Brook baffles are no exception.
The Greater Upper Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited installed the first baffle system – 12 wooden baffles attached to thick metal plates – in 1995, which lasted until Tropical Storm Irene flooding in 2011. The White River Partnership worked with partners to install a replacement system – 18 metal baffles attached to steel expansion rings – in 2013, which lasted about 1 year.
Despite the potential for failure, funding partners are committed to investing in providing fish passage at the Mill Brook site, largely due to the success of these former baffle systems.
“Data gathered upstream of the Mill Brook culvert shows a 500 percent increase in young-of-the-year trout after the installation of the baffle systems,” says Russ. The results are clear: baffles work.
Used with success in the Pacific Northwest, the rubber baffles installed in the Mill Brook culvert are the first of their kind in the eastern United States. And these baffles cost only one-third as much as comparable wooden or metal baffles options.
If successful the Mill Brook baffle project will provide a replicable model for economical, culvert retrofit projects throughout New England.
Many partners contributed to the Mill Brook fish passage project. Six Greater Upper Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited volunteers joined seven White River Partnership, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, and US Fish & Wildlife Service staff to install the baffles over a two-day period in late-August.
“We were very excited to help install the baffles and watch the culvert transform from a long, steep chute to a series of steps and pools that fish could navigate more easily,” said VT Fish & Wildlife Habitat Biologist Will Eldridge, one of the state biologists who helped install the baffles.
“We will continue to monitor Mill Brook for adult fish migrating upstream again and young fish being born. We will also keep an eye on the baffles to see if they can withstand repeated buffeting by large boulders and ice floes. If this experiment succeeds, anglers will find more healthy trout in the stream, but the fish and other aquatic organisms that can once again spawn, avoid floods and find cool water in Mill Brook will be the biggest winners.”
Baffles were designed by ATS Environmental in New Zealand and distributed in the United States by S. Scott & Associates. Funding was provided by the Vermont Habitat Stamp Fund and the National Fish Passage Program. And access permission was granted by the town of Pomfret and The Nature Conservancy.