Flood buffer trees planted along West, Williams rivers

The Mill in Weston during flooding. Photo by Gene Palma.

The Mill in Weston during flooding in 2023. Photo by Gene Palma.

As Vermonters continue to recover from flooding and plan for the future, planting lots of native shrubs and trees is a terrific technique to build river resilience as well as protect our communities.

Roots form mesh-like webs in the soil, helping keep our river banks intact; stems and trunks slow down flowing water, dissipating the energy of floods and allowing sediment to settle out in wide flat areas.

As part of the state’s Trees For Streams program, in May, the Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District joined forces with Redstart Inc. of Bradford, a forest management company, to plant 300 stems between two locations in southern Windsor County.

With funding from the  state of Vermont’s DEC Woody Buffer Block Grant, planting took place in May along the West River near the old mill in Weston and the Williams River in Chester, near the Rockingham town line. While primarily focused on protecting water quality in our streams and rivers, Trees For Streams benefits landowners who want to protect their property from flooding and erosion damage.

To learn if Trees For Streams might be appropriate for your property, email ONRCD at onrcd1@gmail.com.

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  1. On the north Branch of the Williams River there are two parcels I hay and graze that Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Planners have come down and appraised. The 50’ foot buffer was heavily damaged in both July and December of last year. The loss of 50’ of field for me will loose part of a hay crop but I have replanted some of the area twice and do not have the funding to remove the silt. On one field, it had never gotten back to the fertile condition after the Hurricane Irene damage. The biggest hurtle is getting the State of Vermont to realize there is agriculture outside the Champlain basin. Once they did make the trip, the CREP planners were helpful working with the land owners. The program is not only planting trees but controlling of invasive plants ie. Japanize knot weed. This is not a program for everyone.