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29 Restoration Projects Completed in 2023 by Connecticut River Conservancy & Partners

Updated: Mar 2

volunteers at a tree planting

We are happy to report that Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) and project partners have completed 29 river restoration projects throughout the four-state watershed (NH, VT, MA, & CT) in 2023.

While many occurred in the upper watershed this year, annual priorities fluctuate based on variables such as grant funding, project readiness, partner or stakeholder agreement, and restoration needs.

River restoration projects play a vital role in the ongoing stewardship of the Connecticut River and tributaries. New events such as severe flooding, coupled with historic challenges such as old dams, fragmented habitats, and erosion lead to a range of environmental strategies implemented by Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) and partners to continue fostering cleaner, healthier, more resilient rivers. In addition to CRC’s other work related to advocacy, water quality monitoring, community science and much more, these projects provide an opportunity to make a tangible difference for expanded migratory fish habitat and safer river communities.

Completed Restoration Projects:

  • 1 dam removal and culvert replacement/bridge installation project in Wilmington (VT)

  • 3 floodplain restoration projects in Bath (NH), Canaan (VT), and Plymouth (VT)

  • 10 strategic wood addition projects with Redstart Forestry Inc. in Corinth (VT)

  • 15 riparian buffer tree planting projects in CT, MA, VT and NH

“Restoration projects on the Connecticut River and its tributaries require lots of funding, collaboration, and vision, to say nothing of good old-fashioned hard work” said Rebecca Todd, Executive Director at CRC. “We want to make a lasting impact through clean water, healthy habitats, and resilient communities. Thank you to our incredible partners and supporters for leaving a positive living legacy in our watershed!”

Dam Removal

Connecticut River Conservancy worked with the Town of Wilmington, the State of Vermont, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and a private dam owner to remove an old mill dam and upgrade a town-owned culvert to a new bridge. This project will restore water quality, reconnect native Brook trout habitat, and improve flood resiliency in Beaver Brook (a tributary to the Deerfield River in the town of Wilmington).

Ecological and community benefits include the following:

  • Increased water flow, water quality, and oxygen levels for aquatic organism health.

  • Increased aquatic organism passage (AOP), including native Brook trout which require access to cold water habitats for spawning.

  • Lowering the flood elevation level by 7 feet to help minimize future flooding and road closures.

  • Eliminate the disruption of emergency services during future storm events.

Floodplain Restoration

Restoring floodplains includes removing artificial berms and converting former farm fields back into floodplain forests. These restoration activities increase flood storage capacity during storm events, reduce potential damage to infrastructure, help limit sedimentation of aquatic habitat, and improve natural river functions. This year CRC led or supported these projects in Bath (NH), Canaan (VT), and Plymouth (VT).

Strategic Wood Addition

Strategic wood addition projects use felled trees to add roughness in small headwater streams by securing them in place at defined intervals. These projects offer benefits in the following ways:

  • Help reduce Nitrogen inputs into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound for improved water quality

  • Increase habitat for native brook trout

  • Increase aquatic biomass

  • Lower stream temperatures

  • Help slow runoff from headwater streams, which can reduce flooding downstream

Previous projects have resulted in a three-fold increase in trout populations in these small headwater streams. CRC’s projects in 2023 were in Corinth, VT, on small Waits River tributaries.

Riparian Buffer Plantings

Buffer planting involves planting native trees and shrubs to create a vegetation zone between developed land and waterways, thereby helping to control erosion and slow the flow of water during flood events. CRC’s riparian buffer planting projects in 2023 resulted in nearly 10,500 native trees and shrubs being planted, restoring roughly 26 acres of riparian land along the Connecticut River and several tributary streams.

River Restoration Partnerships

CRC’s work would not be possible without the help of many federal, state and local agencies, local businesses and landowners, and other non-profit organizations who help make these projects a success.

In 2023, these partners include the Grow Food Northampton, Hartland (VT) Conservation Commission, Intervale Conservation Nursery, Keney Park, New England Wetland Plants, Northwoods Stewardship Center, Passumpsic Valley Land Trust, Redstart Forestry Inc., River Park Estates, Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, Town of Hartland (VT), Town of Wilmington (VT), Trout Unlimited, Two River Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission, and private landowners and contractors.

In addition, our funders include our generous CRC donors, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, One Tree Planted, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, and Watersheds United Vermont.


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