Saunders River Access

Bristol Flats Easement area

Name of Project:     Saunders River Access & River Corridor Easement

Location:      Bristol

River:   New Haven

Type of Project: River Corridor Easement

Public Access: yes

Date Completed: October 2013

Size:   40.1 acres

Water Frontage: 3,900 feet

Landowner: Town of Bristol

Funding Partners:  VT Agency of Natural Resources Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, New Haven River Anglers Association, and the Town of Bristol Conservation Reserve Fund.

Property Description: Saunders River Access property is half managed hay field, and half actively or recently active river channel lands, with their characteristic sandy cobble gravel deposits, newly established vegetation of shrubs and small trees, and the actively meandering New Haven River channel itself.  Soon, a vegetated riparian buffer will extend 50 feet from the top of the newly incised river banks, into the fields, helping create additional natural protections for both the river and the hay fields and neighboring homes.

Project Background:  The Saunders family has farmed along the New Haven River for generations.  After Tropical Storm Irene drastically altered the river channel running through their land, the Saunders were forced to reassess the long-term costs of farming the floodplains of their family land.  The Town of Bristol experienced the impacts of flooding firsthand, and wanted to help protect open floodplains around the Town to minimize future flood damage.  VRC, together with the state partners, have protected these river lands for flood resiliency and public river recreation.  The land was donated to the Town of Bristol to keep the character of Bristol Flats alive while allowing the river to move and change as it will.  Saunders River Access is a win-win for flood resiliency, farmers, towns and river recreationalists.

Directions: Rt 116 south of Bristol.  Park at the bridge downstream of the site, and walk .5 miles north to access property.

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