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Help keep the White River clean & accessible

Vermont’s White River is special. Unlike many rivers around the country, the White River is cold and clean; its waters are free-flowing; it’s easy to access; and people who live in its valley value the river. In fact it was a group of local people who came together 22 years ago to talk about how to keep the White River healthy – a discussion that led to the creation of the Royalton-based organization the White River Partnership (Partnership).

Since 1996 the Partnership has worked with thousands of interested individuals, businesses, schools, towns, and other groups to complete hundreds of on-the-ground projects that keep the White River cold, clean, and accessible. For example we plant thousands of trees along the river each year to keep the river cold and clean; we monitor water quality at a swimming hole in every town to let communities know whether it’s safe to swim; we protect special places along the river to improve recreational access; and we engage community members in all of these activities – hundreds of volunteers help plant trees, grab water samples, build and maintain river access trails, and more.

Together we’re making a difference, but there’s still more work to do! Here are 3 opportunities to help the Partnership keep the White River clean and accessible in 2018:

Swim smart

Do you have a favorite swimming hole on the river? Have you ever wondered how clean the water is? We do and we have, so Partnership staff and trained volunteers monitor water quality at 23 swimming holes every other Wednesday during the summer months. Vermont has a water quality standard for recreational use, so our volunteers grab a water sample that we analyze to determine if the water at each site is clean enough for swimming. We share those monitoring results on our website and Facebook page every Thursday afternoon following a monitoring date. Contact us to receive the results directly via email.

Enjoy the river

Summer is a great time to go to the river for fishing, swimming, tubing, and more! Join us on Sunday, June 10 at 2pm to paddle the White River between Stockbridge and Bethel. We’ll meet at the former Gaysville Campground in Stockbridge (Bridge St) and end at Peavine Park in Bethel (375 Peavine Blvd). Bring your own boat, paddles, and life jackets, and plan to sign a waiver form. The Partnership will provide a shuttle and light snacks. RSVP today: info[at]whiteriverpartnership.org or 802-762-7722.

This event is part of our 2018 Second Sunday Event series. Learn more about events in July, August, and September here!

Steward a river access site

The White River Water Trail is an emerging network of 40+ recreational access sites along the White River and its tributaries. The Partnership is seeking volunteers to help us keep these sites clean and accessible this summer. Water Trail stewardship volunteers will monitor a specific river access site in June, July, and August; gather data on trash and site improvement needs; collect trash as needed; and report data via an electronic survey. Visit our Water Trail map to learn which sites near you need a steward. Contact us to learn more or to sign-up as a volunteer.

For more information

Contact us to get involved in one or all of the above. For more information, visit our website or Facebook page.

Second Sunday Events

The WRP is coordinating our second annual Second Sunday Events series in 2018. Starting on Sunday, May 13 and running through Sunday, September 9 individuals and groups have 5 opportunities to get involved in the WRP’s work to keep the White River clean and accessible!

All events start at 2pm; are held rain or shine; and are free-of-charge, unless otherwise noted. For more details – or to RSVP – please contact us at info[at]whiteriverpartnership.org.

May 13 at 2:00 pm – Plant trees* at the Kingsbury Covered Bridge in Randolph

Help us plant 140 trees in this location to improve water quality, habitat, and flood resilience. Volunteers should meet at the Kingsbury Covered Bridge off Route 14 in Randolph. Dress to get dirty in long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toed shoes; the WRP will provide gloves, shovels, and light snacks.

*Co-sponsored by Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

June 10 at 2:00 pm – PaddleFest* from Stockbridge to Bethel

Join us for a paddle trip between 2 White River Water Trail access sites along the middle White River. We’ll start at the former Gaysville Campground site in Stockbridge (Bridge Street) and end at Peavine Park in Bethel. This stretch of the White River was heavily impacted by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, so we’ll point out flood recovery and river restoration projects along the way.

Bring your own boat, paddles, and life jackets. Participants will be asked to sign a waiver form. The WRP will provide a shuttle before and after the event along with light snacks.

*Co-sponsored by the Connecticut River Conservancy.

July 8 at 2:00 pm – Clear access trails to the Third Branch in Bethel*

Help us clear access trails to the Third Branch of the White River in Bethel with hand tools. Volunteers should meet at Peavine Park in Bethel. Dress to get dirty in long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toed shoes; the WRP will provide gloves, tools, and light snacks.

*Co-sponsored by the Bethel Conservation Commission.

August 12 at 2:00 pm – Tour 2 dam removal project sites on the First Branch

The WRP is working with local engineering firm Ripple Natural Resources and 2 private landowners to design the removal of the Upper Eaton & Lower Eaton Dams on the First Branch of the White River in Royalton. These dams were originally built in the late-1700s to power local industry, including a grist mill, saw mill, fulling mill, furniture factory, power plant, and more. No longer in use, the dams block the passage of fish to 30 miles of upstream habitat; block the downstream passage of sediment and debris; and contribute to elevated water temperatures along the lower First Branch.

Join us for a free project tour – meet at the small gravel parking lot at the northeast corner of the Mill Road bridge across the First Branch in Royalton. Dress to walk along the river.

September 9 at 2:00 pm – River cleanup* at White River access sites

Join us for a river cleanup at multiple sites along the lower White River as part of Vermont’s River Cleanup Month and the Source to Sea events, including White River Water Trail access sites in Royalton and Sharon and several spots along the river where tires need to be removed.

Volunteers should meet at the parking lot just downstream of the South Royalton Bridge (103 Chelsea Street). Dress to get dirty in long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toed shoes; the WRP will provide gloves, trash bags, and light snacks.

*Co-sponsored by Vermont Law School.

For more information

Visit our Volunteer FAQs page for more information about WRP volunteer events. Or contact us at info[at]whiteriverpartnership.org with questions!

S.260 and the White River

You’ve probably heard a lot about the water quality issues in Lake Champlain recently. And you may know something about the state’s efforts to raise funding to address these issues. But did you know that the White River watershed is impacted by these efforts as well?

Vermont has been busy improving waterways throughout the state by passing laws that protect these important resources and providing funding to address water quality issues. And for the past few years, the state has ramped up those efforts in response to concerns about phosphorus issues in Lake Champlain – from establishing the Vermont Clean Water Initiative to developing the Clean Water Fund. The newly introduced S.260 bill seeks to continue this legacy.

S.260 would work to restore impaired waters throughout the State and protect healthy waters from degrading through the use of funding gathered through a Water Quality Fund. On the surface, this bill sounds like it will continue the state’s legacy of protecting existing watersheds. So, how did it come about and why is it important to the White River watershed?

Act 97: Vermont Clean Water Initiative

  • The Vermont Clean Water Initiative was established with the intent to protect the rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds throughout Vermont.
  • A major concern with the introduction of this initiative was determining where funding for improving water quality would come from.

Act 64: Vermont Clean Water Act

  • Governor Shumlin passed this act, establishing the Clean Water Fund.
  • Initial funding for the first three years of the Clean Water Fund was raised through a fee on property transfer tax.
  • However, continued funding needed to be determined after that point.

Act 73: The Working Group on Clean Water Funding

  • Since the Clean Water Fund was only financed through the first three years of its inception, it was necessary to develop a new method of funding.
  • The working group goal was to determine long-term funding methods for protecting and restoring the waters throughout Vermont.

S.260: Water Quality Fund

  • This bill seeks to develop a Water Quality Fund that will replace the Clean Water Fund currently in effect within the state.
  • This bill would establish some form of authority that directly handles the financing required for water quality initiatives.
  • S.260 seeks to ensure that water quality funding will continue to be available for years to come.

Many watershed groups throughout the state have testified in favor of S.260. If passed, this bill would allow for thousands of projects to be funded across the state. With increased support from the Water Quality Fund, hundreds of on-the-ground projects could be completed within the White River watershed. This is an important bill to keep an eye on, particularly for watershed groups like the White River Partnership.

For more information about S.260, follow this link.

5 Olde Fundraising Dinners Benefit 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 29, February 26, and March 26. 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 2018.

In 2018 the WRP will work with individuals, businesses, schools, local and regional organizations, and state and federal agencies to:

Plant 3,500 native trees along the river to improve water quality and habitat;
Engage 500 teachers and students in hands-on watershed education programs;
Conserve and restore 10 acres of active floodplain to improve flood resilience;
Monitor water quality at 23 swimming holes around the watershed;
Replace an under-sized, stream-crossing culvert with a fish-friendly, flood-resilient structure; and
Engage 750 community volunteers in monitoring, restoration, and stewardship projects.

The fundraising dinner series starts on Monday, January 29. Please RSVP to info[at]whiteriverpartnership.org if you’d like to join the WRP Board of Directors’ table at 6pm.

Floodplains conserved in Hancock, Stockbridge

The White River Partnership (WRP), Vermont River Conservancy (VRC), Vermont River Management Program, and 4 private landowners have conserved 41 acres of floodplain along the White River in Hancock and Stockbridge.

The 14.2-acre Hancock project site is located just upstream of Hancock village, and just downstream of a 15.4-acre floodplain conserved in 2016.  Tropical Storm Irene flood waters washed across and deposited large amounts of sediment on these hay fields, highlighting the need to protect the fields for floodplain function.  In sum the 2 Hancock project sites protect active floodplain along 3,300 feet of the White River.

The 26.8-acre Stockbridge project site is located just upstream of Gaysville village and, unlike the Hancock project site, sits 30 feet above the White River.  Instead of water spreading out across the fields, flooding from Tropical Storm Irene scoured 138,000 cubic yards of material from the parcel’s streambanks.  This catastrophic erosion highlighted the parcel’s vulnerability and the need to protect it from future development.

The floodplain conservation projects prohibit future development and compensate the landowners for flood-related property loss.  Allowing the river to reconnect to these critical floodplains will reduce the speed and erosive power of flood waters before they reach the Hancock and Gaysville villages.

The WRP received a Vermont Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) grant to work with VRC on acquiring the permanent conservation easement and to work with a Vermont Youth Conservation Corps crew and community volunteers to restore 50-100 feet of native trees along the length of the fields.

Since 2008 the WRP has worked with the ERP, VRC, and Vermont Land Trust to complete 9 floodplain conservation projects, conserving 148.8 acres on river-front properties in Granville, Hancock, Randolph, Rochester, Royalton, and Stockbridge.

The WRP has received ERP funds to work with VRC and a private landowner to complete a 10th floodplain protection project in 2018: conserving 9 acres on the White River in Gaysville.