Touring the former Eaton Dams site

A dozen WRP and community members toured the Upper & Lower Eaton Dam Removal project site in August 2019. The WRP worked with local contractors to remove both dams this summer. As a result the First Branch of the White River at the Mill Village site in Royalton is free-flowing for the first time in 250 years!

The photo above was taken during the August tour from the bottom of the “First Branch Falls,” which was the site of the former Lower Eaton Dam. Thanks to Kevin Eaton for the photo; Kevin’s grandfather was the last landowner who used the Lower Eaton Dam from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Follow this link for more information about the dam removal project, including before and after pictures.

Annual Meeting & “Open” Board seats


The 2019 WRP Annual Meeting will be on Saturday, October 26. The Annual Meeting is a chance to enjoy good food; catch-up with watershed neighbors; recognize WRP members, donors, volunteers, and partners; celebrate our collective good work; and conduct business as needed.

We’ll share more details in the coming months!

Announcing “Open” Board seats

One important piece of Annual Meeting business is electing Board members – WRP Members who are 18 years or older have the right to elect Board Members and to serve as a Board Member, if interested.

At last year’s Annual Meeting WRP Members voted to approve WRP Bylaws changes that clarify how Board Members are nominated and elected – see a summary of changes in the table above.

There are 3 “open” Board seats in 2019 and we invite YOU to consider being a Board Member candidate. WRP Members interested in being considered as a Board Member candidate should:

  • Declare their interest** by Monday, August 26;
  • Attend a WRP Board Meeting before the Annual Meeting (see 3 date options in the table above); and
  • Submit a 1-paragraph biography** by Friday, September 26.

**Via email to WRP Executive Director Mary Russ: mary[at]

Improving fish passage in Pomfret’s Mill Brook

The WRP is partnering with Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD), US Fish & Wildlife Service, Greater Upper Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the town of Pomfret to improve fish passage through the first culvert on Mill Brook by installing a new type of rubber baffle system this summer. A recent press release from the VFWD is below (see original article online).

Innovative Project to Help Fish and Other Aquatic Organisms Travel Up Mill Brook

POMFRET, VT‑-A long and steep culvert in Pomfret between the mainstem White River and Mill Brook may soon be slow enough for trout and turtles to safely travel up. Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is partnering with the White River Partnership, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Greater Upper Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited on an experimental design to retrofit this culvert to enhance aquatic organism passage. The work is being supported in part by donations for the month of the May to the Vermont Habitat Stamp.

“Wild populations of brook and rainbow trout once migrated between spawning and nursery areas in Mill Brook and rearing areas in the mainstem White River,” notes Will Eldridge, habitat biologist, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “But in recent times, a steep 15-foot-wide, 185-foot-long, corrugated metal pipe culvert has prevented fish and other river-based species from being able to move upstream from the White River into Mill Brook.”

One solution, says Eldridge, is retrofitting the culvert with baffles to create a series of steps and pools which fish and other organisms can navigate more easily. Previous attempts to install rigid baffles within this culvert have improved passage temporarily, but the designs have all failed eventually, most recently in 2014.

“We are planning to experiment with a new flexible baffle design that would bend but not break under the large boulders and ice flows that frequently move through the culvert,” says Eldridge. “The rubber material should allow for many years of continued service and be more cost-effective to buy and install than a rigid baffle.”

The flexible baffles will be installed this summer through a coordinated effort by volunteers from White River Partnership, USFWS, and Trout Unlimited volunteers.

“We’re very excited about trying out this new baffle,” says Greg Russ, project manager from White River Partnership. “It was developed in New Zealand and has been used only a few times in the U.S. We’re waiting to see if it succeeds as a long-term solution for restoring passage in Mill Brook; if it does, everyone working on road and stream infrastructure in Vermont and elsewhere in the country will be eager to adopt it.”

Eldridge agrees. “While we’re all hopeful the experiment will lead to better tools for retrofitting culverts, the fish and aquatic organisms that can soon travel up streams like Mill Brook will be the biggest winners.”

The Vermont Habitat Stamp was created by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department in 2015 to help protect Vermont’s wild places. To learn more about the stamp, the projects it supports, or to donate online, see

Fundraising dinner series benefits WRP

The White River Partnership and 5 Olde Tavern in South Royalton invite you to enjoy a great dinner for a good cause on the last Monday of January, February, and March: January 28, February 25, and March 25.  Eat dinner anytime between 5pm and 9pm and 5 Olde Tavern will donate 10% of your food purchases to the WRP to support our work in 2019.

The WRP is a membership-based, nonprofit organization formed in 1996 by a group of local people who shared an interest in keeping the White River healthy. The WRP envisions a White River watershed in which individuals and communities work together to make informed decisions that result in clean water, fewer flood damages, improved access to the river, and more.

In 2019 the WRP will work with individuals, schools, towns, technical partners, and funders to:

  • Plant 4,000 native trees along the river to improve water quality and habitat;
  • Engage 500 teachers and students in hands-on watershed education programs;
  • Protect and restore 40 acres of active floodplain;
  • Monitor water quality at 22 swimming holes around the watershed;
  • Remove 2 abandoned dams; and
  • Engage 1,000 community volunteers in monitoring, restoration, and stewardship projects.

The fundraising dinner series starts on Monday, January 28.  Please RSVP if you’d like to join the WRP Board of Directors’ table at 6pm: info[at]

Developing projects in Hancock and Tunbridge

The White River Partnership (WRP) has completed an effort to identify on-the-ground projects that can address chronic water quality concerns along nearly 7 miles of the White River in Hancock and Tunbridge.

Hancock projects

The community of Hancock was hard hit during Tropical Storm Irene, which damaged infrastructure and caused devastating flooding impacts.  As a result the community is committed to becoming more resilient to future flooding events and to protecting the town’s water resources by implementing on-the-ground projects that reduce future flood damages.

The WRP received Vermont Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) funding to determine where river restoration projects would be most beneficial and to conduct outreach to 10 landowners along a 3.5-mile stretch of the Hancock Branch to garner support for on-the-ground projects.

Two landowners signed-on to implement three on-the-ground projects: a riparian buffer restoration project, a dam removal, and a floodplain restoration project. All three projects were implemented in 2018.

Tunbridge projects

The community of Tunbridge is concerned about chronic water quality issues in and around Tunbridge village. Issues include repeat flooding of village properties, a mass failure adjacent to VT Route 110 across from the village store, a mass failure at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds, and active erosion along the First Branch.

In response to these community concerns the WRP secured additional ERP funding to determine where river restoration projects would be most beneficial near Tunbridge village. The WRP reached out to 11 landowners along a 3.4-mile stretch of the First Branch to garner support for on-the-ground projects, and identified three feasible on-the-ground projects: a bioengineering project and two river corridor easement projects.

Next steps

In early-spring 2019 the WRP will recruit volunteers to harvest and install native willow stakes along the First Branch of the White River in Tunbridge. Keep an eye on our website for more information.

The WRP will also continue working with interested landowners to implement on-the-ground projects that result in clean water and fewer flood damages in Hancock and Tunbridge villages.

Working with landowners to develop and implement on-the-ground river restoration projects is one important way the WRP accomplishes its mission: bringing people together to improve the long-term health of the White River and its watershed. To learn more about current projects, visit the WRP Facebook page.