"Grants will pay for work on Roaring Branch" by Patrick McArdle, Staff Writer - Rutland Herald
SUNDERLAND — The Batten Kill Watershed Alliance announced recently that it, working in partnership with the Green Mountain National Forest, had obtained $70,000 in grants to repair sections of the Roaring Branch in Sunderland along Kelly Stand Road that were damaged last year by Tropical Storm Irene.
A federal watershed grant is providing $55,000 while the Orvis Company, which has its headquarters in Sunderland, added another $15,000.
Cynthia Browning, executive director of the alliance, said on Monday, the federal grant was specifically for improving trout habitat and the stability of the river.
“Stability that’s good for (trout) is generally also good for people and their properties and their road. We like to do all of that in what we do,” she said.
Browning said she knew some people would believe the grant was a “huge amount” of money but she pointed out that river work, which could involve moving boulders within an active body of work, was “really expensive.”
She also said the town of Sunderland, working with the Green Mountain National Forest, has already gotten some federal funding to restore stability to the river. However, she said the alliance’s project is on a different section of Kelly Stand Road and said the two projects, while complementary, are not connected.
The alliance has previously received similar grants for its work in New York. One of the aspects of the alliance that sets it apart from other river steward groups is that it’s equally dedicated to the Batten Kill on either side of the border between Vermont and New York.
With the new grant, Browning said she hopes to see work done in 2013 during the dry season of August and September.
All of the work done with the $70,000 will be in Sunderland. Browning is familiar with the damage done by Irene in that town not only through her work for the alliance but as a state representative whose coverage area includes Sunderland.
After the work is done, Browning said she hopes the river will be better able to handle future flooding events without destroying roads and homes as Irene did in Sunderland in 2011.
The project will also be new territory for the alliance which has worked in the main branch of the Batten Kill and not the tributaries like the Roaring Branch. Browning said Irene and the resulting flooding and damage had sent the message to the alliance that work on the tributaries could no longer wait.
The alliance recently got more good news when Trout Unlimited named Greg Cuda, the chairman of the alliance’s board of directors, as its national volunteer conservationist for 2012.
Browning said Cuda’s award was a source of pride for the alliance because Cuda, of Glenville, N.Y.,has been part of the organization since it was formed in 2001. She said he had been chairman of the board for the past five years.
“I think Greg gets a lot of credit for the formation of the alliance and for our success,” she said.
Cuda is also a past president of the Clearwater chapter of Trout Unlimited in New York.
The alliance is hosting its annual meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Georgi Community Building in Shushan, N.Y. The speaker will be Carl Schwartz, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.