Rainbow Rock Swimming Hole_Hayley Kolding

Face the River: Southeast Vermont

What would local communities look like if we turned to Face the River?

For more than 250 years, Vermont rivers have been subject to use and abuse – meandering waterways forced into straight-line channels, currents burdened with trash and effluent, and fish passage cut short by hundreds of (now aging) dams.

Today, the effects of these historic patterns linger as visible barriers to vibrant communities. Lowland forests and wetlands that once served as floodplains have been cleared or developed and no longer slow a rivers’ current, setting fast-moving water on a crash-course into homes and businesses. In town and village centers, channelized rivers rush alongside roads, hemmed in by rip-rap with no room to meander. Downtown rivers are lined with busy roads, parking lots, and railroad tracks instead of walking paths, outdoor cafes, and songbird-filled green spaces. And in the farthest headwaters, lands stripped of trees and topsoil a century ago still lack the swales and wetlands that could provide high quality wildlife habitat and essential filtration to keep communities’ water clean.

In the midst of a changing climate, Vermont is already experiencing increased drought and increased flooding. Every model predicts that these trends will continue – making rivers essential to mitigating the impacts of climate change.

We’re connecting with people across southeast Vermont, leading volunteer activities, field walks, art workshops, and community conversations to ask: How could our communities turn to Face the River?

Upcoming Southeast Vermont Workshops, Events, and Volunteer Days

Brattleboro Poetry Celebration

You are warmly invited to a celebration of rivers and poetry. Community members who took part in Vermont River Conservancy’s Poetry Workshops will perform original poems as well as pieces by writers they admire.

West River Paint-Out

Join painter John S. Dimick in a paint out at The Marina in Brattleboro. Capture your surroundings and the river during this event.

Past Southeast Vermont Workshops, Events, and Volunteer Days

Windham County Poetry Workshops

In the beginning of 2024, we traveled Windham County, bringing with us poems inspired by rivers, and inspiring community members to reflect on their own experiences.

Perspectives on River Restoration

In September of 2023, a group gathered to hear from Judy Dow, founder of Gedakina, about river and floodplain restoration.

Practicing Mindfulness

In October, a group of community members gathered to learn about metaphorical floodplains with author and educator, Peter Gould.

Observing Macroinvertebrates

In October, a group of people donned waders and bug nets to gather and identify macroinvertebrates along the Green River in Guilford.

Make it Happen!

Give today to make sure every Vermont town can access its local river.

Featured Projects