The Winooski River and its tributaries are still recovering from massive deforestation that occurred throughout Vermont in the 19th and 20th centuries. Degraded riparian buffers reduce water quality values, reduce wildlife and fish populations, cause serious property damage (bank erosion) and loss of valuable agricultural lands. Removal of riparian vegetation results in increased water temperatures and decreased dissolved oxygen. The loss of shade exposes soils to drying out by wind and sunlight and reduces the water storage capacity of the riparian area. Loss of riparian vegetation causes streambank erosion. Eroding banks contribute to sedimentation and lead to a wide shallow stream with little habitat value. These factors result in significant reductions in aquatic stream life.
Over the years, the Friends’ have been involved in a number of riparian and stream bank restoration projects. The restoration of riparian buffers improves water quality to prevent sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticides and other pollutants from reaching a stream.
Riparian vegetation is a major source of energy and nutrients for stream communities. Woody vegetation with deep roots helps to hold soil in place and reduce erosion. Overhanging riparian vegetation keeps streams cool, this is especially important for trout populations. Riparian buffers provide valuable habitat for wildlife. In addition to providing food and cover they are an important corridor or travel way for a variety of wildlife. Riparian vegetation slows floodwaters, thereby helping to maintain stable streambanks and protect downstream property. Riparian vegetation allows water to soak into the ground and recharge groundwater. The riparian zone also traps sediment that would other otherwise degrade streams and rivers.
Every year the Friends work on multiple sitea throughout the watershed to plant between 1500 to 3000 trees and shrubs. Contact us if you own streamside land and would like to improve the buffer.
The Friends recieve funding for our riparian restoration program from a variety of sources including the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the State's Watershed Grant program and the Ecosystem Restoration Program, the Lake Champlain Tributaries Fund (via the Vermont Community Foundation) and Cabot Creamery.