How We Work

The Winooski River Watershed is a big watershed! It encompasses almost 10% of the land area of Vermont and it is the largest river basin in the Lake Champlain basin. Restoring and protecting such a large area is a daunting challenge for a nearly all volunteer group such as the Friends.

The Friends addresses a number of specific issues related to the overall health of the watershed.

Water Quality and Pollution Abatement: The Friends, for the most part, focus on nonpoint sources of pollution. This type of pollution is caused by runoff and erosion. Point sources (piped discharges) are generally regulated by government agencies.

Habitat Improvement: Through riparian restoration and corridor protection projects, Friends’ projects improve both terrestrial and aquatic habitat. We also specifically address in-stream issues such as fish passage.

Improved River Stability: Two hundred plus years of development and manipulation have negatively impacted the river’s stability. The result is considerable property damage and habitat degradation.

Individual Stewardship: The majority of land in the watershed is privately owned. Landowner stewardship is key to the long term health of the watershed.

Human Enjoyment: Humans are part of the watershed landscape. We encourage responsible and sustainable use of the river. We believe that people will value and protect a resource that they enjoy.

In order to increase its influence and impact, the Friends pursue several strategies.

Building Partnerships: The Friends increases its capacity and programs by actively developing partnerships with other organizations and towns in the watershed. We work together to define and implement projects with local interest and support.

Tributary Focus: Most people relate to the river on a scale smaller than the Winooski as a whole. The Friends conducts outreach and develops capacity and projects within the major tributaries.

Multiple Roles: Based on the interests, priorities and capacity in different areas of the watershed, the Friends will take on different roles. On some projects, we take the leadership role including project development, funding and implementation. In other situations, we play support role, providing additional resources and support as needed.

Communication and Facilitation: There is a lot to do in the watershed and a lot of organizations out there working on their area of geographic interest or within their area of expertise. The Friends’ goal is to help connect with these organizations and help them connect with each other in order to expand everyone’s impact.