Reconnection work continues on the Mettawee River

By Erin Rodgers

Trout Unlimited continues to make good progress in efforts to reconnect the fragmented Mettawee River near Dorset, Vt.

This year’s projects are part of a larger effort by TU, the Poultney-Mettawee Natural Resource Conservation District, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to reconnect over a mile of the stream between the headwaters in the Green Mountain National Forest and the main stem of the Mettowee.

A total of six barriers are being addressed.

In the fall of 2016 teams built stone steps to allow fish passage over an old wooden weir (above) with a 2 ½-foot downstream drop. This spring, one of the steps was knocked out after a flash flood. With the help of the landowner (and TU board member) John Redpath, we replaced the top step this fall and fish can now easily pass this barrier.

The uppermost perched culvert was replaced this year with a 20-foot bridge and the stream bed underneath was restored. TU hosted a volunteer work day to help move sediment and boulders under the bridge to recreate/improve the stream channel and banks after construction.

Another perched culvert, this one a squashed, 9-foot pipe with a 4-foot downstream drop, was replaced by a 40-foot bridge. The stream bed underneath was also restored while the deep scour pool was retained for habitat. Plans are to further enhance the site next spring with large woody habitat.

Also in the future are plans to address two additional barriers, one a 10-foot dam and another a concrete box with a 2.5-foot downstream perch.

By Mark Taylor. A native of rural southern Oregon, Mark Taylor has lived in Virginia since serving a stint as a ship-based naval officer in Norfolk. He joined the TU staff in 2014 after a 20-year run as a newspaper journalist, the final 16 as the outdoors editor of the Roanoke Times. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in Roanoke with his wife and, when they're home from college, his twin daughters.