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Latest in a statewide effort to bolster flood resilience and water quality

September 15, Bethel, VT — Over a mile of land along the White River in Bethel has been protected for water quality, the Vermont Land Trust announced today. Supported by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), this is the latest project in a statewide effort to protect Vermont’s high priority rivers and to improve water quality.

The corridor is part of an 89-acre farm conserved by Jeffery Townsend, a dairy farmer who operates Townsend & Daughters Farm with his family. Its protection allows the river to flow freely and change course naturally without obstruction. Conservation of the entire farm was supported with funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Being located upstream of Bethel Village, this is a strategic location for river corridor protection,” said DEC river scientist Gretchen Alexander. “Allowing the river to meander helps it maintain access to its floodplain where it can deposit sediment and dissipate energy during flooding. This leads to less flooding downstream as well as improved water quality and habitat.”

The White River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in Vermont and the longest undammed tributary of the Connecticut River.

“Tropical Storm Irene and other major floods caused significant devastation along the White,” said the Vermont Land Trust’s Britt Haselton. “Efforts like these are crucial to building strength and capacity in our river systems to withstand the impacts of large storms.”

Next year, the Vermont Land Trust will work with the non-profit White River Partnership and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program to plant trees on several acres of farmland along the river.

The Vermont Land Trust and DEC have used water-quality funding to protect 26 miles of river. Recent projects have focused on the Missisquoi River and Lewis Creek, both of which flow into Lake Champlain.

To date, the Vermont Land Trust has protected 690 miles of river, 2,370 miles of streams, 890 acres of river corridor, and 1,500 acres of “wetland protection zones” — areas of conserved properties that are subject to extra restrictions to protect sensitive wetlands.