"Roaring Branch work gets grant" by Zeke Wright, Staff Writer - Bennington Banner
SUNDERLAND -- A federal watershed grant dedicated to river habitat restoration will repair sections of the Roaring Branch near Kelly Stand Road following Irene flood damage.
The $55,000 grant was announced earlier this month by the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance. In partnership with Green Mountain National Forest, the funds will go toward better stone stream bed structure and stabilization, creating better trout habitat and alleviating future flood concerns. The Orvis Company added an additional $15,000 toward the efforts.
River dynamics and habitat restoration will be the topic of a special presentation by Carl Schwartz of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Alliance's annual meeting this coming Thursday.
The Roaring Branch riverbed was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, as well as ensuing road repairs to Kelly Stand Road in Sunderland, which have been underway since earlier this year. According to the Alliance, the flooding and road repairs disrupted the stream bed's stone structure and resulted in a straight, channelized bed that causes a rushing, erosive current.
Naturally, the Roaring Branch would have large boulders displacing that current and creating variations of stream flows. Restoration will involve recreating that variance with assorted-sized rocks, lessening the chance of erosion, debris jams, and channel cutting.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials have previously said that flooding and erosion were less severe in areas where such mitigation efforts were taken in advance of Irene.
Earlier this year, similar rehabilitation work to the Batten Kill took place in Arlington, between the Route 313 bridge at the town recreation park and the West Arlington Covered Bridge, and also downstream off River Road.
Across state lines in New York, the Alliance along with Fish and Wildlife installed structures to improve river dynamics along the Batten Kill downstream of the Route 313 bridge at Hickory Hill Road in Shushan, N.Y., and further downstream of the Eagleville Covered Bridge toward Cambridge, N.Y.
The watershed group holds their annual meeting this coming Thursday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. at the community room at the Georgi Museum in Shushan.
Meanwhile, Alliance board member and current chairman Greg Cuda was named Volunteer Conservationist of 2012 by Trout Unlimited. A past president of the Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Cuda served on the committee that established the Alliance in 2001, and has worked since then on habitat restoration projects in New York and Vermont.
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