Nearly a mile of Creek frontage and 13 acres of wetlands conserved

Vermont farmers Dan and Corinne Kehoe run a heifer boarding operation and grow feed on their farm in Weybridge, Vermont. Their farm lies along a bend in Otter Creek east of the Weybridge Municipal Forest, near its confluence with the Lemon Fair River.

Dan started working on the land in the 1990s as an employee of the Wyman brothers who owned it then. In 2008, he bought the farm from the Wymans, who had conserved it with us in 2001.

Dan and Corinne recently worked with us to add special protections on 34 acres. There are wetlands and two and half miles of land along Otter Creek and its tributaries in the area. They are taking several acres of farmland out of active use to protect and restore the land for clean water, erosion control, improved habitat, and flood resilience.

“The land that we retired was too wet and too small to use well. I am still able to use most of the land, which is good for farming,” explained Dan.

Otter Creek and its streams will be able to flow and change course in a natural way

“Allowing water the freedom to flow across wetlands and drainage areas helps reduce flood damage. This is because the water can slow down more, and that’s helpful during major storms,” said VLT’s Adam Piper. “With grant funding, we are able to compensate farmers like Dan and Corrine, since clean water and flood safety affects us all.”

Funding for these conservation protections was provided in part by the Vermont Community Foundation.

The conservation protections requires that land within 50 feet of the Creek be kept vegetated. We plan to work with partners to restore areas of the property by planting native trees and shrubs.

a shaded area of woods with shrubs. Weybridge Vermont. Otter Creek.

The Kehoe farm also has a striking forest along Otter Creek. Known as a Silver Maple-Ostrich Fern Floodplain Forest (pictured above), these woods are dominated by large hackberry and silver maple trees.

Managing the impact of floods

Tropical storm Irene underscored the importance of protecting land along Otter Creek. Flood waters caused considerable damage in Rutland but, 30 miles downstream, Middlebury was unscathed. That’s because a 9,000-acre complex of wetlands between Middlebury and Rutland stored flood waters. The water was slowly released over time so that Middlebury and points downstream never experienced the full force of the flood.

This is the second farm along Otter Creek that we have worked with recently. In 2022 farmer Roger Wales conserved 266 acres in Weybridge. Over the years, VLT has conserved 10 miles of frontage along the creek.