DO NOT SWIM! Vermont waters are currently unsafe. Due to significant rain and flooding in most of Vermont on July 10th, with rains continuing on July 11th, currents are very strong. Also, most rivers are filled with debris, effluent, chemicals, fertilizers, etc. and are unsafe for swimming.
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Water Wins: Conservation Projects Help Brook Trout

June 5, 2023
Man fly fishing in Vermont (Kurt Budliger)

As spring turns to summer and the sun’s rays beat down, it’s tempting to relish afternoons splashing in warm waters – comfortable for an afternoon dip, but life threatening for wildlife. The eastern wild brook trout thrives in water up to 65° and can tolerate a few degrees more. 75° kills.

Last year some of Vermont’s major waterways hit 79°. Too easily dismissed as an uncontrollable effect of climate change, shockingly warm waters are more so the result of how we all treat the land – the hundreds of dams that trap bathtub-warm water and the riverside lawns, fields, roads, and parking lots that deprive banks of shady trees.

This spring, we finished three projects to create a brighter future for brook trout – places where these speckled fish can count on cooler waters year-round.

Battenkill Wetlands, Manchester

Green Mountain springs feed the Battenkill, one of the region’s most iconic trout streams, and a bastion for eastern wild brook trout. We protected 42-acres at a sharp bend in the river where most of the land – once drained dry and farmed – can once again become a vibrant wetland with natural, cool water storage. For the next two years we’ll work with partners to plant trees and shrubs along the riverbank, shading the Battenkill – and the brook trout that call it home – through in the heat of summer.

Camel’s Hump, Duxbury

The most ardent kayakers likely know this spot as Ridley Brook, a favorite spring run that, thanks to our conservation work in partnership with the Duxbury Land Trust, now has public access. The steep, canyon-like 58-acres here will be added to Camel’s Hump State Park. But you don’t have to be a boater to appreciate this spot. Brook trout (and swimmers) can cool off here mid-summer when these higher elevation waters provide escape from the warmer rivers below – a saving grace for Vermont’s state fish.

Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area, Danby & Mount Tabor

Vermont’s longest river gets a healthy start in one of Vermont’s few wilderness areas, Peru Peak Wilderness, cascades down the forested slopes, then runs smack dab into Route 7, runs a gauntlet of farms and towns, and is “impaired” by the time it reaches Lake Champlain – too hot, too much phosphorus, and too polluted for people and wildlife. We just helped protect more than a mile of this river by adding 344 acres of wetland, floodplain, and woodland to Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area. Thanks to this, brook trout can count on cool, protected wetlands – one more step towards a healthier Lake Champlain.

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