Missisquoi River Basin Association

A Vermont/Quebec Watershed Alliance
in the Lake Champlain Basin
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MRBA Vermont

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Last updated
November 15 2011

 

MRBA Watershed Update

Trout River Watershed Project – February 2010 Update

PDF version of Feb 2010 Update
Word .doc version of Feb 2010 Update

 The Trout River Watershed Project is continuing to seek conservation and restoration projects that improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and protect the long-term geomorphic stability of the river channel, its tributaries and its adjacent infrastructure. Funding and oversight to Missisquoi River Basin Association (MRBA) is provided by the VT Agency of Natural Resources, River Management Program, with Staci Pomeroy as the primary contact. Most of the effort is in the town of Montgomery, with other portions of the watershed in the towns of Berkshire, Richford, Enosburg and Westford. The project attempts to utilize local knowledge of priority conservation and restoration sites and the results of a 2007 Phase II Geomorphic Assessment Report completed by the Johnson Company. Their report described the physical condition of a number of reaches of the Trout River and major tributaries, their risk of future adjustment and erosion, and listed a set of potential project opportunities.

 The work in this season can best be divided into 1) planning and development for longer-term and larger-scale projects such as corridor easements, tree buffer plantings and floodplain restoration, and 2) development and implementation of short-term projects capable of being completed by volunteers. The effort towards planning and developing easements and buffers has involved gathering additional detail about priority sites, and contacting and visiting landowners to brainstorm conceptual practice and project designs. Three sites are being reviewed by agency partners as to their potential for getting funding and technical assistance through existing state and federal programs. Additional landowner contact and project development will continue through this summer.

 The short-term projects have involved the Town of Montgomery, local residents near West Hill Brook and the Kinney Farm in Berkshire. These short-term projects help reduce sediment loss on these smaller-scale sites while providing education on watershed protection practices to the volunteers and the public. Volunteers were able to complete conservation and restoration practice at these locations. July 23rd a MRBA crew was at the Kinney Farm in Berkshire, along a tributary to the Trout River. This site was a small streambank restoration effort that was identified through on-going project development efforts in the Trout River watershed. This small stream that crosses under Route 118 had been an MRBA planting site in 1998 through a Partners in Wildlife project. The majority of this planting site looked great with 20+ feet tall willow shrubs, ash, oaks, maples and box elders. One bank had eroded over time and extended its outside meander bend as to undermine a pasture fence and was targeted for bank stabilization.

 A volunteer crew cut tree and brush branches, dragged them to the eroded bank and bundled them together with baling twine, making brush rolls. They were secured in layers, starting at the toe of the streambank, using cable and duck-bill anchors, covering the bare soil like. This bioengineering method should protect against future erosion, capture sediments in the stream flow and more closely imitates natural stream bank conditions than would bank stabilization with heavy stone or rip-rap. The bank was finished by pounding in live stakes from on-site willows around the brush rolls.

 The next project was September 2nd at the residence of Tim Chapin and Winston Lewis. Another aspect of the Trout River Watershed Project is to identify residential sediment reduction projects. Tim and Winston were willing to host a workday and act as a demonstration site for efforts that landowners can take in watershed protection. Their site was chosen as their land drains into West Hill Brook, a stream mostly in Montgomery, that has a steep drop from the Cold Hollow Mountains down to the valley floor along the Trout River. At the valley floor the brook reduces in grade and becomes an alluvial fan, depositing the transported sands, gravel and cobblestones upstream, under and downstream of the Route 118 bridge. This bridge has been the site of several ice jams, and flood damage to adjacent homes and was blocked in 2009 by large blocks of ice released during a thaw. The state has greatly limited the Town of Montgomery’s ability to extract gravel from this site due to concerns about additional down cutting and erosion that occur following gravel removal. The demonstration of sediment reduction practices is a part of a long-term effort to decrease the supply of sediment into West Hill Brook.

 The practices implemented by a group of volunteers included installing waterbars along a tractor road going down a slope. Trees about 6 inches in width and 18 feet in length were laid across the slope and tractor road at a 60-degree angle. The bars are placed into a shallow trench and extend to either side of the tractor road. The partially buried tree acts as a berm to catch water running downhill or in ruts and diverts in to the side and away from the road. The bars are intended to not be too high as to be difficult to drive or walk over. Waterbars are commonly used on logging roads and can be used in Better Backroads Projects. The second practice implemented was culvert outlet stabilization. The outfall of a culvert pipe was temporarily captured in buckets while a shallow basin was grubbed out with shovels and mattocks. A layer of geotextile fabric was placed over the bare soil and covered with rocks from on-site. This shallow pool created an energy dissipater that prevented scouring, erosion and the formation of a gully. Both practices utilized on-site materials and can be done at low cost by landowners or contractors.

 A student volunteer workday was held on October 14th near West Hill Brook in Montgomery along Creamery Bridge Road. This project was identified through the Trout River Watershed Project and it intended to reduce sediment loss from the roadside ditch, an active gully and an eroding slope. The Town of Montgomery was a key partner, hauling stone and operating a payloader and bucket to move materials to the specific locations. Students from Todd Marlow’s Richford HS Environmental Science class placed stones to create a series of check dams and line portions of the ditch and gully. This should reduce the input of sediment to West Hill Brook and protect the infrastructure of the town. Guidance was provided by VTrans in planning this project.

 For additional information on long-term watershed projects for water quality, channel stability, floodplain restoration and habitat improvement, please contact Brian Jerose, the contracted Project Developer at 933-8336 or jerose@together.net. Brian Jerose, also acts as the part-time MRBA Technical Advisor, and can be contacted regarding volunteer workdays such as tree and willow plantings, streambank stabilization, critical area seedings and other conservation projects.

 - Brian Jerose

 

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Missisquoi River Basin Association  2839 VT Route 105   East Berkshire, VT  05447
(802) 933-9009, or email mrba@pshift.com