July 27, 2010
The WRP has been working with volunteers and partners to implement several on-the-ground restoration projects in recent weeks.
Trout and other fish depend on the entire river system for survival, so connecting upstream and downstream habitats is important. Culverts under roads allow fish and other aquatic life to move from one habitat to another. As a result, the WRP and its partners are in the process of identifying and implementing a series of culvert modification projects to improve fish passage, thereby connecting vital habitats and increasing native fish populations.
The Mill Brook culvert under White River Lane in Pomfret was modified in 1995 through a cooperative effort between the US Forest Service, the VT Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Trout Unlimited. The project involved bolting wooden baffles to the floor of the culvert at evenly-spaced intervals to enhance fish passage during high-flow conditions. The wooden structures require routine maintenance, so WRP staff, volunteers, and partners replaced two broken baffles on July 21. With help from Forest Service fisheries staff, a team of nine workers removed the broken baffles and installed new baffles to ensure continued fish passage to upstream habitats in Mill Brook.
In 2009, the White River Partnership, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, and Vermont Agency of Natural Resources worked together to inventory a subset of the Class 4 roads in the White River watershed. Project partners assessed 75 Class 4 roads and identified 26 priority roads in need of erosion control work.
In 2010, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) received funding from the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund to employ a crew of high school students to implement a series of erosion control projects on a handful of high-priority Class 4 roads in Sharon, Norwich, and Tunbridge. The VYCC crew started work this week in Sharon, building stone culvert headers on Sugar House Road. For the next four weeks, the VYCC crew will continue to implement projects identified during the 2009 inventory, including the installation of culvert headers, water bars, stone-lined ditches, and stone aprons.
Each of these project sites is located within 50 feet of a waterway, with documented sedimentation entering those waterways. By completing these projects, the WRP and its partners hope to reduce non-point source pollution and improve trout habitat.
For more information about efforts to improve Vermont’s road systems, check out the NRCS Better Backroads program.