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River Restoration

Healthy riverbanks, floodplains, and forests throughout the Connecticut River watershed are essential to supporting clean water and thriving habitats in our rivers. That’s why CRC regularly plants native trees and shrubs along riparian zones of the main stem river and tributaries, restores floodplain forests and wetlands to their natural conditions, and conducts related projects to filter pollution, slow fast-moving waters, and provide a buffer zone between our streams and other land uses.  

throughout the watershed since 2011! 

CRC and partners have planted

89,855 TREES

Here are some of the ways CRC restores healthy rivers:

Forested Riparian Buffers

Buffer planting involves planting native trees and shrubs to create a vegetation zone between developed land and waterways, thereby helping protect water quality by filtering sediments and nutrients, controlling erosion, and slowing water flow during floods.


CRC’s riparian buffer planting projects in 2023 alone 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. 

Tree Planting Connecticut River
Floodplain Restoration Brunault Colebrook NH CRC & TNC

Floodplain Forest and
Wetland Restoration

Restoring floodplains includes removing artificial berms, planting or seeding in native trees and shrubs, and converting former farm fields back into natural floodplain forests.


These restoration activities increase flood storage capacity during storm events, reduce potential damage to infrastructure, help limit sedimentation of aquatic habitat, improve natural river functions, and store carbon.  

Strategic Wood Additions 

Strategic wood addition projects use felled trees to add roughness in small headwater streams by securing them in place at defined intervals.


These projects help reduce nitrogen inputs into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound for improved water quality; increase habitat for native brook trout and other aquatic organisms; increase aquatic biomass; lower stream temperatures; and help slow runoff from headwater streams, which can reduce flooding downstream.


To date, CRC and our partners at Redstart Inc. have restored 16 miles of river habitat in 48 streams with 11 different landowners.

Person with a chainsaw cutting a felled tree. Strategic Wood Addition Connecticut River.
Root wads along a recently restored riverbank. Vermont Pinney Hollow Farm Brook Floodplain Restoration.


These projects help stabilize banks with large woody material known as rootwads to provide natural protection from erosion during high flow events or water quality impairments. Rootwads help trap sediment and debris, reduce nitrogen loading, and allow the stream bank to revegetate over time.


They also add complexity to the river channel, slowing flows and providing cover for fish and other aquatic organisms.

Dam Removal for River Restoration

CRC’s riverbank plantings are often done in connection with a recently removed dam to ensure long-term stability and ecological health. The Connecticut River watershed includes over 3,000 dams and over 44,000 stream crossings such as culverts – many of which are obsolete and no longer serving a useful purpose. Here's an example of a dam removal on the Wells River in Groton, Vermont.

Removing these obstacles restores vital stream access for migratory fish, supports flood resilience, and improves water quality. Our restoration teams usually plant trees, shrubs, and other plants in the area surrounding the removed dams during the following spring season. To date, CRC and partners have removed 21 old dams, upgraded 5 culverts, and restored over 424 miles of river habitat.

Why Floodplain Forests and Wetlands are Important 

In addition to being oxygen-producers, trees provide a range of other important benefits to rivers, people, and wildlife in our watershed. Including the following:

Slowing rainwater runoff

to reduce flooding, erosion, and pollution, and recharging aquifers.

Providing important habitat

for all kinds of animals, including those that fly, swim and crawl.

Keeping our rivers cool

helping fish and other river life. They do the same thing for our cities and homes. 

Capturing carbon dioxide

locking it away in its roots, leaves, wood, and soil.

Improving water quality

as well as absorbing and filtering pollution from our soil and air.

Creating beautiful places

providing spots to gather, reflect, and enjoy nature.

Restoration News

For questions about river restoration with Connecticut River Conservancy, contact Ron at rrhodes - at -

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