High Meadows Fund Announces $249,000 in Grants to Build Resilience in Vermont Watersheds

The High Meadows Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation has announced $249,000 in grants to support projects in six Vermont watersheds that will engage and mobilize their residents to find creative solutions to protect communities, land, and water throughout the state.

Teams in the six watersheds—Mad River, Lamoille River, Saxtons River, South Lake, Upper White River, and Mill Brook—will work with their communities and through various approaches will develop shared understandings of their watershed’s vulnerabilities, risks, and opportunities; design short- and longer-term solutions; and begin to make progress on implementing those solutions. Each watershed team will work together for 18 months and is made up of stakeholders from at least three towns and representatives from the government, nonprofit, and private sectors.

Tropical Storm Irene brought the devastation of extreme weather to the forefront in Vermont. What many Vermonters don’t know is that since 2000, the state has had at least one federally-declared disaster every year. In certain parts of the state, Vermonters have lived through two 100-year flood events in the past decade. Localized “micro-bursts” continue to damage farms, businesses, and homes. Besides damaging property and roads, these events degrade water quality downstream.

“All the research and patterns we’ve seen demonstrate that these events are no longer an ‘if’ but a ‘when,’” says Gaye Symington, High Meadows Fund president. “Planning ahead can reduce or even eliminate the damage to our physical, economic, and social communities. But erosion and flooding do not follow Vermont’s municipal and regional boundaries. Through this initiative, we seek to encourage communities to work together to change land use in ways that protect people, property, and water quality, not just in their own town, but also upstream and downstream.”

“Building resilience requires creativity, diverse voices, and hard choices. These grants will support an inclusive and transparent process within the watersheds,” says Symington. “But most importantly, the Fund wants to encourage more towns to take into account the downstream and upstream consequences of how their land use affects Vermont’s waterways.”

More information can be found online at www.highmeadowsfund.org/watershed-resilience.

High Meadows Fund Watershed Resilience Grants 2015

A team from the Lamoille River watershed was awarded $62,000 to develop a flood model to help communities understand their risks and prioritize roads and other infrastructure for restoration, conservation, or adaptation. In addition, they will provide training to contractors and businesses about ways to reduce risks on their properties without increasing risks downstream.
Towns: Cambridge, Johnson, Wolcott, and the villages of Cambridge, Jeffersonville, and Johnson
For more information: Seth Jensen, Lamoille County Planning Commission, 802-888-4548

A team from the Mad River watershed was awarded $60,000 to develop a watershed-wide storm water management program and an accompanying Technical Standards Manual with the active involvement of planners, engineers, community members, forest and farm landowners, and businesses from all five towns.
Towns: Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Warren, and Waitsfield
For more information: Corrie Miller, Friends of the Mad River, 802-496-9127

A team from the Mill Brook watershed was awarded $50,000 to prioritize and begin implementing bank stabilization and floodplain projects recommended by a recent stream assessment of the Mill Brook. The grant will also help them set up workshops at the teacher-training institute located in the American Precision Museum and use their new stream table to demonstrate stream dynamics at local events and civic meetings.
Towns: Windsor, West Windsor, and Reading
For more information: Dan Potter, Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission, 802-674-9201

A team from the Saxtons River watershed was awarded $32,000 to bring three towns together and work with landowners to restore key damaged riparian sites, review existing floodplain ordinances, investigate opportunities for conservation of floodplain lands, and establish a permanent education center to facilitate public understanding of river dynamics and conservation.
Towns: Windham, Grafton, Rockingham, and Westminster
For more information, contact Kim Smith, Windham Regional Commission, 802-257-4547 ext. 108

A team from the South Lake watershed was awarded $30,000 to create a detailed checklist that gives a comprehensive picture of flood readiness in the three towns located in the Flower Brook sub-watershed. The grant will also help them reach out to town planning bodies, farms, and residents to fill in gaps in the data, draw wider participation into their resilience efforts, and prioritize future actions.
Towns: Pawlet, Danby, and Tinmouth
For more information: Hilary Solomon, Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District, 802-287-8339

 A team from the Upper White River watershed was awarded $15,000 to conduct resilience tours with the goals of learning about local success stories and drawing wider support for resilience planning and actions from all towns in the watershed.
Towns: Hancock, Rochester, and Stockbridge
For more information: Mary Russ, White River Partnership, 802-763-7733

For more information on each project, go to: www.highmeadowsfund.org/watershed-resilience