Fish-Ladder Restoration in Vermont Employs Crowd-Funding Model


Workers perform maintenance on a Mill Brook culvert.

photo courtesy cleanwaterfuture.org

Last August 28, Tropical Storm Irene dumped over 11 inches of rain in parts of Vermont in a very short time, causing massive flooding across the state. Rivers breached their banks, washing away homes, flooding towns, and forever changing the landscape. In Pomfret, Vermont, a fish ladder leading to Mill Brook was completely destroyed during the storm.

After the ladder was installed in 1996, wild-trout spawning in Mill Brook increased by 500%. Since then, the ladder has helped revive the wild-trout population in this section of Vermont’s White River watershed.

The White River Partnership is working with state and local officials, as well as other non-profit organizations, to rebuild the fish ladder using steel beams instead of wood. They are seeking funding for the project on a new crowd-funding website for watershed projects called CleanWaterFuture.org. Similar to KickStarter, the website encourages the general public to invest in watershed protection and restoration projects.

The website is part of a larger project to test different strategies for encouraging people to invest in ecosystem resources. “We benefit from these resources all the time, but we don’t consider the costs of maintaining them,” notes Mary Russ, executive Director of White River Partnership. “This website provides small watershed groups with an opportunity to reach people outside their network while also raising money for projects that may be difficult to fund through more traditional avenues such as grants.”

In addition to the fish ladder project, CleanWaterFuture.org currently has a river bank restoration project, a fish habitat improvement project, as well as one for the purchase of a tracked hauler to help minimize the impact of trail building

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