MALT/Town of Middlebury

MALT and Town of Middlebury for webName of Project:  Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT)/Town of Middlebury         

Location:  East Middlebury, VT 

River:  Middlebury River     

Type of Project:  River Corridor Easement, Public Access Easement

Public Access:  Yes     

Date Completed:  June 2009

Size:  17.3 acres

Water Frontage:  1,500’

Landowner:  Middlebury Area Land Trust/Town of Middlebury; Easement held by Vermont River Conservancy

Funding Partners: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources River Management Program

Property Description:  Located on the north side of the Middlebury River, upstream from the US Route 7 Bridge in Village of East Middlebury.  The riparian lands are subject to extensive sediment deposition and river channel re-alignment from upstream flood events.  Easement will restrict landowner management of river channel, restrict permanent structures (one parking lot allowed), and provide permanent public access.        

Directions:  Off Ossie Road in East Middlebury (contact Middlebury Area Land Trust for specific directions) 

Rutland Herald Press Release – August 31, 2009
Gordon Dritschilo, Staff Writer

Two local organizations have made a deal to keep clear a 1,500-foot stretch of the Middlebury River.

The Middlebury Area Land Trust and the town gave an easement to the Vermont River Conservancy preserving the 17-acre area near the Route 7 Bridge in East Middlebury.

“It’s at the transition point between where the Middlebury River leaves the mountains and enters the Champlain Valley,” MALT executive director Joshua Phillips said.

Steven Libby, executive director of the VRC, said the area was an “attenuation zone” where sediment washed from upriver settles.
“It’s an important area to protect against future development,” Libby said. “The easement restricts the land from any permanent structures being built.”

If there were buildings in the area, Libby said, a landowner would likely want to protect them from the river’s irregular path through it. While it’s a reasonable desire for the landowner, he said, it could harm the river.

Phillips said the river also builds up energy coming down from the mountains, and the way it meanders through the conserved area dissipates some of that energy. He said efforts to channel the river, to make it run straighter, would carry that energy into Otter Creek, creating erosion risks.

Phillips also said the river sees significant recreation use, with people fishing and kayaking in it as well as hiking along it.

Libby said the easement leaves open the possibility of developing the area for recreational purposes with more formal hiking trails.

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