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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When the Waters Rise

July 12, 2023 by Kassia Randzio
Conserved lands along the North Branch of the Winooski River on July 11, 2023. These wetlands helped slow the raging waters, allowing the river to slow and spread across the land, helping mitigate flooding downstream in communities like Montpelier.

Over the last 48 hours our rivers rose to unimaginable heights, and many of us were faced with a mix of awe and wonder, grief and fear, and a sense of powerlessness in the face of water’s torrent.

Our hearts go out to the many people whose homes, businesses, and dreams are under water. We’re grateful for the many neighbors helping neighbors weather this storm today and beyond. And we’re grateful for the many landowners we’ve worked with over the years – people who proactively decided to help keep their communities safer in moments like this by protecting their land.

Over nearly three decades, Vermont River Conservancy has worked with people on nearly every river in the state to protect the places where rivers are most likely to overflow during floods like the one we just experienced. Our “river corridor easements” are our unique agreements with landowners to let rivers freely flow across their land, and to let trees and shrubs grow along riverbanks. These are farms, wetlands, and forests where – thankfully – floodwaters safely spilled across land, dropped soil and debris, absorbed raging rivers’ energy, and reduced damage downstream.

These conservation lands will not make headline news, and their positive impact will largely go unmeasured in the record books. Yet we are so grateful for the many landowners we’ve worked with who, by deciding to protect their land, decided to help to keep the rest of us safer when the rivers rose.

As we collectively chart a course forward, supporting our communities to recover from this week’s catastrophic events, there’s clearly more work to be done. Alongside you, landowners and supporters, we are resolved to do our part to build back resilient communities: we will protect more land along rivers, restore more wetlands, help more trees and shrubs grow up along riverbanks, and reconnect more rivers to their natural floodplains.

With gratitude,
Kassia, Erin, and the VRC Team

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