Clean Rivers are Good for Us

By Sally Miller

EE VYCC 2013

Vermont Youth Conservation Corp members help plant the riparian buffer at the East End Park.

As part of the 20th Annual Source to Sea Cleanup, Sustainable Woodstock is partnering with the Connecticut Rivers Watershed Council to clean up the riverfront area of the new park. We will be removing metal debris left in the Ottauquechee River following Irene and pulling loosestrife and other invasives from the riparian buffer.

The CRWC Source to Sea Cleanup is an annual trash cleanup of the Connecticut River system – rivers, streams and banks, parks, boat launches, trails and more. Each fall, thousands of volunteers of all ages and abilities head out to places of their choice all along the four-state watershed (NH, VT, MA, CT) to clean the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat.

“Source to Sea Cleanup volunteers have worked hard to combat litter and illegally dumped trash,” says Alicea Charamut, CRWC River Steward and organizer of the Cleanup. “In the past 18 years, volunteers have removed over 897 tons of trash from the Connecticut River and its tributaries, preventing it from reaching our oceans and becoming a global trash problem.” In 2015 alone, more than 2,300 volunteers pulled over 50 tons of trash from over 169 miles of river banks and waterways. Volunteers use human power and sometimes heavy equipment to pull out everything from recyclables, fishing equipment and food waste to tires, televisions and refrigerators.

During this year’s cleanup, Sustainable Woodstock will be focusing on the area of the new park along Maxham Meadow Way. Due to the dry summer, the Ottauquechee River is at its lowest level in years. This will allow volunteers to remove materials that were deposited in this location during Tropical Storm Irene.

The Village-owned riverfront parcel was severely eroded during TS Irene which resulted in a loss of over 1/3 acre of land requiring the riverbank to be “rip-rapped” to protect the municipal sewer system. The lower level had been used as a Department of Public Works storage area, and when the land was eroded, stored materials, including concrete, metal and stone, just dropped into the river.

Sustainable Woodstock has been working to build an environmentally park that includes rain gardens at the lower level and an improved riparian buffer to filter storm water runoff. In addition to reducing impervious surfaces adjacent to the river and capturing sediment and nutrients, the design allows for public river access to the Ottauquechee River. This new use of the floodplain area will serve as green infrastructure protecting water quality and preserving floodplain function and flood storage as well as providing a community asset.

The ability of the river and its streams to support fish populations and associated recreational benefits is largely dependent upon improving water quality and lowering water temperatures for native populations of fish species. For native species to thrive as they once did, our surface waters must be able to provide adequate supplies of oxygen and support the plant, animal, and insect life on which these fish populations feed. Riparian buffers are critical for temperature control, flow levels and reducing contaminants.

The Village of Woodstock received Vermont Ecosystems Restoration Program grants in 2013 and 2014 which helped establish these new landscape features. A Vermont Youth Conservation Corp crew planted the riparian buffer by adding native plant materials and covering it with straw mat and conservation mix. The crew also planted the western portion of the raingarden. Work completed during 2014 included stabilization of the slope between the upper and lower levels of the park and parking area; additional rain gardens on the lower level to manage the stormwater runoff, and removal of compacted gravel in the lower areas which was replaced with better soil to promote infiltration. The ERP grant program is administered by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Watershed Management and these grants serve the dual purpose of protecting the State’s water quality and supporting the goal of restoring this area for community use.

Supporting the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s annual Source to Sea Cleanup will make an immediate impact on the health and beauty of our community. You can help protect our water resources and be a part of this fun and positive event. You can find out more about other cleanup sites or register your own at http://www.ctriver.org/projects/source-to-sea-cleanup/.

Join the fun on Saturday, September 24, 9:00am – 12:00pm. Meet at the parking area on Maxham Meadow Way. You can bring buckets and waders or rubber boots if you want to help in the river. Everyone is welcome. If you have questions call 457-2911 or email eastend@sustainablewoodstock.org. Hope to see you there!

Just Do One Thing:
Help clean up your river.

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