The Vermont Functioning Floodplain Initiative: Identifying Reconnection Opportunities in the Vermont Sector of the Lake Champlain Basin to Improve Water Quality, Flood Resiliency, and Habitat

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Roy Schiff, Evan Fitzgerald, Kristen Underwood

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Connected and naturally functioning floodplains reduce flood risk, protect water quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and store carbon. The Vermont Functioning Floodplain Initiative (FFI) is a new framework to highlight the roles floodplains play and create a way to understand floodplain conditions. Tools are now being developed under the FFI to reconnect rivers to their floodplains in the Vermont sector of the Lake Champlain basin to realize the benefits of connected floodplains. Our interdisciplinary team of consulting engineers and scientists, researchers from the University of Vermont, and scientists from the State of Vermont have created mapping and decision-support methods to (1) identify the current level of floodplain connection; (2) select reconnection projects; (3) prioritize project type and location; and (4) quantify the potential effectiveness of floodplain connectivity projects. These tools will lead to improved river-floodplain connection in the future, and will engage stakeholders to illustrate the importance of connected floodplains and to allow project planning. This collaborative work leverages Vermont Stream Geomorphic Assessment data for over 2,300 miles of river collected over the last 15 years and ongoing floodplain research projects at University of Vermont. The level of connectivity, project selection, and tracking of implemented reconnection projects will eventually be housed in a web-application. The app will allow users to plan, implement, and track floodplain restoration projects, river corridor protection easements, riparian buffer plantings, water quality improvement projects, and habitat enhancement projects – all to improve the connection between rivers and their floodplains.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program