Leaving boulders and logs in rivers reduces flood risk

Also protects the trout, state experts say

Trout populations can drop significantly in extreme floods like the one Vermont weathered in July.  A wild brook trout sampled from a Vermont stream following the July 2023 flood is pictured here.

After the recent July floods, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is asking recovery efforts to prioritize river resilience and help impacted fish populations when possible. 

“The first priority in flood recovery is human safety,” said Aquatic Habitat Biologist Will Eldridge.  “During Tropical Storm Irene, we learned that retaining and recovering river habitat that buffers against future floods and helps impacted fish populations rebound lines up with that human safety priority.” 

Rivers with features like fallen trees, large boulders, and winding channels provide better fish habitat and are more resilient to floods.  These features reduce flood impacts for landowners and downstream communities by slowing flood waters.  They also provide fish with shelter and places to forage that can be the difference between successful recovery and lasting impacts for fish populations. 

“After Irene some recovery efforts removed trees and boulders from rivers and ended up making rivers more vulnerable to floods and slowing fish population recovery,” said Eldridge.  “We are asking Vermonters to leave downed trees and boulders and in rivers and streams whenever doing so does not create a risk for people, roads, or infrastructure.  These features will help fish populations recover and help our rivers weather future floods.” 

Impacts to Vermont’s fish populations and river habitats from the July flood will take time to assess.  But based on data from Tropical Storm Irene, the department says that trout populations in some rivers may be significantly reduced by this year’s flood. 

“Trout populations can drop by around 50% after extreme events like we saw this month, and can take two or three years to recover,” said Eldridge.  “How badly trout in a given river are impacted and how well they recover has a lot to do with habitat.” 

Landowners, businesses, and towns planning recovery work in rivers and streams are required to follow protocols from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.  For more information on flood recovery resources, visit https://ANR.Vermont.gov/Flood.

Categories: Outdoors, Press Release

3 replies »

  1. Have the Environmemtalists considered what will happen next spring when we have ice jams?

  2. The more we mess with what God created, the more… we mess up.
    Beavers were God’s first flood control…
    We are setting ourselves up to be a nanny state to the teat of FEMA etc, land grabs, and long term job security for those throwing dirt at the problem …a 2500 year cycle that is predictable, happens repeatedly… and are distracted by Musk.

    Qui bono, Vermonters?
    Who’s your daddy?

  3. I hope this is not another all or nothing situation. I respect and appreciate our native trout, but the logs that jammed up the small brook above us turned our house into an island, in short order. Irene was bad, but not like July 10 in our Vermont Valley. Since we’re part of our natural environment, I’d like to think we can find balanced solutions towards better flood management for our wildlife and for our people.