Schoolcraft River Corridor Easement

Kim Komer (Lamoille Natural Resource Conservation District), Roy Schoolcraft (landowner) and Steve Libby (VRC Executive Director) examine the banks of the Wild Branch

Kim Komer (Lamoille Natural Resource Conservation District), Roy Schoolcraft (landowner) and Steve Libby (VRC Executive Director) examine the banks of the Wild Branch

Location:      Wolcott, VT

River: Wild Branch

Type of Project:      River Corridor Easement

Public Access:     No

Date Completed:    September 2014

Size:     8.5 acres

Water Frontage:      2,550 feet

 Landowner:    Roy & Patricia Schoolcraft

Funding Partners:  VT Agency of Natural Resources Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program

Property Description:  Open hayfields dominate the property, with some small forested areas near the river banks, and natural flood chutes across the fields of this 8.5 acre area.  The banks are deeply eroding where the river is undercutting them, and sediment is accumulating in sand bars on the inside bends.  Recently planted trees along the river’s edge will create buffers to stabilize soil and slow down rushing water.  Immediately downstream of the 14 acre Haders River Corridor Easement, these two properties will allow the river to move and adjust over time.

Project Background:  “They don’t call it the Wild Branch for nothing” say the landowners living along its banks in Wolcott.  After many significant flooding events, especially in 1995 and 2011, the Schoolcrafts observed how much the Wild Branch adjusts throughout its corridor – the river valley – moving water and sediment with it.  Bridges are replaced or enlarged after these floods, and development rights are bought from landowners through FEMA, but little is done to restore the river’s natural equilibrium.  By protecting their land with a River Corridor Easement, the Schoolcrafts are committing the land to be part of the river’s natural migration across the valley floor.  While the North Wolcott Road, and many houses, farms and bridges are not going anywhere, open, undeveloped floodplains can help lessen impacts from these big storms.  By taking 50 feet of hayland out of production, and allowing native trees and shrubs to re-grow along the river’s bank, the Wild Branch might just be a little more wild, and a little less damaging.

Directions:  Take Vermont Route 15 (east from Morrisville or west from Hardwick) to Wolcott.  Turn north onto North Wolcott Road, property is located 1.6 miles from Rt. 15, on the right (east) of the North Wolcott Rd.

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