Flooding is, by far, the most costly and devastating natural disaster that the State of Vermont has experienced in recent history and the Saxtons River is no exception. Significant flood events in the Saxtons River occurred in 1927, 1936, 1938, 1973, 1996 and 2011. Proactively addressing flood resiliency requires that we creatively, collaboratively, and actively explore new ways of responding to our waterways.
The Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative formed in the spring of 2015 to do just that. The Collaborative takes a watershed-scale approach to resiliency through a multi-faceted partnership that integrates conservation, education, and policy to protect public safety and infrastructure while helping to protect our water resources.
What is flood resiliency?
Flooding from storms affects many communities across the country, causing billions of dollars of damage annually. Climate change projections suggest that storms will likely become more frequent and stronger in many regions of the country in the future. In light of these trends, many communities want to improve disaster recovery and long-term flood resilience planning. “Flood resilience” means measures taken to reduce communities’ vulnerability to flooding and support long-term recovery after a flood.
Communities throughout Vermont faced this reality when Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011, devastating infrastructure, communities, and lives. Since then, Vermont has made concerted efforts to better prepare for future storms to prevent the kind of damage seen in 2011.
The Collaborative is strengthening flood resiliency through:
- Mobilizing students and volunteers to restore key damaged riparian sites through buffer plantings to improve flood resiliency and water quality.
- Seeking to secure agreements to establish river corridor conservation easements with key landowners to protect sensitive lands from future development.
- Reviewing existing floodplain ordinances with Planning Commissions and Select Boards and seek opportunities help future development.
- Organizing a public workshop that provides landowners with the knowledge and resources to conserve and manage lands in the river corridor.
- Establishing a permanent education center that facilitates public understanding of river dynamics and conservation with a flume table at its center.