BANK STABILIZATION

Mill Brook

In July 2020, the UMATR Wild & Scenic Committee and partners implemented a large-scale bioengineering project on Mill Brook in Westfield. The goal of this project was to address agricultural land loss and improve water quality: this project will both preserve farmland and reduce erosion - protecting our Wild and Scenic Missisquoi River from nutrient loading and sedimentation as eroded soil enters the waterway.

With financial support from the National Park Foundation, this bioengineering project successfully stabilized approximately 300 linear feet of badly eroding riverbank using vegetated geogrids. Partners in this effort included Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC), the National Park Service (NPS), the Army Corps of Engineers, the Northwoods Stewardship Center, Kennison and Son Excavating, the Missisquoi River Basin Association, and the landowner.

NRCS provided design and permitting at no cost to the project; the landowner provided resources, including native plant materials that were harvested on-site. The strength of this project rests on its partnerships.

This animation shows the erosion that has occurred on this bank over the past 20 years (1999-2019).

This bank along the Mill Brook has been losing an estimated average of 340 cubic yards of soil into the waterway annually for the past 20 years. The stabilization project implemented this summer will reduce streambank erosion and help to minimize water quality impairments resulting from sediment and phosphorus loading.

"… it's kind of heartbreaking to see riverbanks rob some of that nice land that you can never get back - once it's gone, it's gone, and the sediments … end up in the waterways and lakes."     - the landowner, who has been farming this land for 8+ years.

The timelapse video below gives a taste of the work involved in this project.

"The best part... is watching it just all come together piece by piece. You never really know what it's going to look like, and then you're like 'wow, this actually looks amazing'."              - a NWSC crewmember

Before, During, and After

This animation shows the erosion that has occurred on this bank over the past 20 years (1999-2019).

We are also pleased to report that this effort has already spawned a similar bank stabilization project along the Wild and Scenic Missisquoi River: another eroding bank a few miles downstream from the project site was repaired this summer using similar methods - designed and constructed based on this project, and utilizing the same contractor and a NWSC crew.

“I really like this project because it’s really beneficial to this watershed… it’s really important."                 

                 - a NWSC crewmember

"...it’s really awesome to see what was here and what’s now hopefully going to continue to be here ... keeping the bank stable and our farmer’s field intact…”        - a NWSC staff member

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