2010 - 2011: Allen Brook Fluvial Geomorphic Surveys and Channel Restoration
Client: Town of Williston
Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA), in partnership with ESPC Engineering, worked collaboratively for the Town of Williston to restore several segments along the Allen Brook. FEA completed detailed channel surveys (i.e., Phase 3 surveys; VTANR, 2009b) and preliminary restoration designs for multiple reaches of this stormwater-impaired stream. The survey approach included longitudinal profiles of the channel and floodplain, multiple cross-sections, and substrate sampling. These data provided the basis for better understanding bed and bank stability, floodplain connectivity, and the efficacy of passive (e.g., buffer plantings) versus active (e.g., floodplain lowering) channel restoration strategies.
For one of the restoration sites, FEA developed a hydrologic-hydraulic model (using TR-20 and HEC-RAS software) to analyze alternative restoration interventions in the stream corridor to improve long-term stability and biotic habitat using passive approaches combined with bioengineering.
ESPC staff provided design, permitting, planning, inspection, construction management, and project management services to implement many of FEA’s designs and facilitated the restoration of riparian buffers by the establishment of 30 acres in conservation easements and the re-planting of over 17 acres within the buffer. Due to various state and federal grant funding source restrictions, this project required implementation, and was completed, within the 2011 calendar year.
Allen Brook tributary channel floodplain profiling.
Client: Town of Willsboro
Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA), in partnership with ESPC Engineering, worked under contract to the Town of Willsboro to evaluate existing conditions, develop alternative solutions, prepare detailed design plans, and manage construction for bank stabilization on the Boquet River in Willsboro, NY.
The project team completed a comprehensive assessment of existing conditions including completing fluvial geomorphic assessments, aquatic habitat assessments, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, an assessment of environmental resources, subsurface investigation, and cultural resource assessment. With the project area properly characterized, the Project Team completed an analysis of several alternatives to stabilize the bank, prevent further erosion, while also improving the aquatic and riparian habitat within the project area.
In 2015, the project area was identified just downstream of the existing dam in the Boquet River, on the west bank. Significant erosion occurred in this area during Topical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011, releasing tons of sediment into the lower reach of the Boquet River and Lake Champlain. The project location is also the site of a former paper mill, with many structural remains present right on the banks of the river, and it is a very popular site for anglers.
The preferred alternative that was selected consists of a series of engineered log jams, with a stone toe bench between them and a stabilized upper bank by employing bioengineered stabilization techniques. The project required permits from the NYSDEC (delegated to Essex County SWCS), ACOE, and variance from the APA. Construction was completed in the fall of 2015 with oversight from FEA and KAS Consulting staff.
Bank restoration and stabilization project on the bank of the Bouquet River.
Clients: Lamoille County Planning Commission & The Nature Conservancy
Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA), in partnership with KAS Consulting, was retained by the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC) to evaluate wetland and floodplain restoration alternatives along a parcel bordering the Wild Branch in Wolcott, VT. The property is owned by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (VFWD). When the agricultural leases expired in 2018, it led the State to consider options for improving water quality, flood resiliency, and wildlife habitat and passage beneath Route 15.
FEA provided a comprehensive assessment of existing river, floodplain, tributary and wetland conditions in support of a restoration design. This included geomorphic assessments, development of a detailed river hydraulics model, wetland delineation and functional assessment, and evaluation of restoration alternatives with a large stakeholder group. FEA developed final restoration design plans which LCPC implemented in 2019.
In 2019 FEA, in partnership with KAS Consulting, was retained by The Nature Conservancy to finalize designs and secure permits for the removal of the historic (abandoned) Fort Hill bridge and the installation of a wildlife passage bench beneath Route 15. The project was successfully completed in the fall of 2020. Removal of the channel constriction from the bridge and abutments improves floodplain access and reduces flood risk to adjacent town roads and private residences. The Route 15 bench facilitates wildlife movement along a critical corridor between forested blocks.
A wildlife passage bench on VT Route 15 over the Wild Branch.
Client: Vermont Land Trust
Eugene Button and the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) have been working on the Button property in Colchester for many years to implement water quality improvement projects within the Crooked Creek watershed. An earthen dam and on-stream pond, built in the 1960’s, disrupted the flow and sediment movement downstream, resulting in an incised and eroding channel.
Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA) was retained by the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) in 2021 to develop a design and construction drawings for the removal of the dam and agricultural pond, and restoration of wetlands and floodplains through the current pond location. The final design included:
· A stage-zero restoration design on a 3% slope to mimic a similar natural reach upstream
· Ten (10) log grade control structures to hold the floodplain grade and dissipate flood energy
· Wetland restoration including two depressions along the margin of the floodplain
· An upsized culvert under a farm road.
The project was constructed in August 2022 and FEA provided construction oversight and monitoring during the work. The stage-zero channel has performed as expected during high flow events, with flood waters evenly distributed across the valley.
Impoundment prior to restoration.
2007 - 2012: Mad River Geomorphic Assessment and Corridor Planning
Waitsfield / Warren, VT
Client: Friends of the Mad River -and- VT Agency of Natural Resources
In 2007, Friends of the Mad River (FMR) received a grant from the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) to develop a river corridor plan (RCP) for the Mad River in Warren and Waitsfield, VT. FMR hired Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA) and Lisa Godfrey as consulting geomorphologists to complete the corridor planning tasks. Tasks in compiling the Mad River corridor plan for Waitsfield and Warren included: 1) completion of bridge and culvert assessments for structures not yet assessed and analysis of all structure data; 2) identification of riparian landowners and outreach; 3) analysis of the fluvial erosion hazard zone in the Town of Waitsfield; and 4) identification and prioritization of potential stream restoration projects.
In addition, FMR hired FEA to complete a Phase 2 geomorphic assessment on 18 river reaches in the Mad River headwaters during the 2007 field season. As part of this effort, FEA identified over 40 potential restoration projects along the Mad River mainstem and headwater reaches including Lincoln Brook, Stetson Brook, and Austin Brook. Following the Irene flood in 2011, FEA was hired by VTANR to complete field work to verify valley wall locations along the Mad River and tributary reaches in Moretown, VT including Doctor’s Brook and Dowsville Brook.
River channel migration locations where the river corridor boundary was adjusted.
Client: Windham Regional Commission -and- Connecticut River Council
Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA) was contracted by the Windham Regional Commission (WRC) to complete a Phase 1 and 2 stream geomorphic assessment following various methods (i.e., Rosgen, Montgomery and Buffington, Schumm), and a river corridor plan following the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (VTANR) river corridor planning methods, for the Saxtons River watershed in southeastern Vermont. The Phase 1 assessments covered 59 reaches (77 river miles), and the Phase 2 assessments covered at total of 29 river reaches (32 river miles). Using the Phase 2 data, FEA developed a list of priority restoration projects such as buffer plantings, corridor easements, and dam removal for various reaches, as well as fluvial erosion hazard zones for the entire study area.
FEA worked with VTANR and other project partners on a pre-design survey of dam remains at a historical mill site on the south branch of the Saxtons River in Grafton, VT (see figures below). FEA completed a detailed Phase 3 channel survey to understand potential adjustments of the channel bed following structure removal, and developed cost estimates for final design, permitting and implementation. In 2020 FEA was retained by the Connecticut River Council (CRC) to develop the dam removal and provide construction oversight. The dam remains were successfully removed in the summer of 2020.
In the Town of Rockingham, VT a series of large berms were placed along a river reach immediately upstream of Saxtons River Village following large flood events of the 1970’s. The berms had constricted flood flows through the reach, causing severe channel incision, sedimentation, loss of aquatic habitat, and increased flood risks in the downstream village. FEA completed a detailed channel and floodplain survey in support of a hydraulic modeling exercise to analyze floodplain restoration alternatives. Data for five channel cross-sections and a longitudinal profile were collected along a 1,200-foot section of the reach. Data was imported into HEC-RAS software and flood profiles were analyzed across a gradient of flow magnitudes and frequencies (1-year to 25-year return storms) to determine the potential effect of berm removal on floodplain access in the adjacent hay field.
Evan Fitzgerald presented the results of the overall river corridor planning effort in September 2010 to watershed stakeholders at a public meeting in Rockingham. The river corridor plan led to local stakeholders securing two permanent conservation easements on private lands in areas prone to erosion and flooding hazards. FEA worked with the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) and the Vermont River Conservancy to develop one conservation easement on a 40-acre property at the confluence of the Saxtons River and Bull Creek.
Predicted flood inundation zones for different flow events (with and without berm removal).
Client: Lamoille County Planning Commission -and- Lamoille County Conservation District
Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA) was retained by the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC) in 2012 to assist with a Phase 1 stream geomorphic assessment (SGA), and to complete a Phase 2 SGA and a river corridor plan (RCP), for the Brewster River watershed. The RCP informed the Village of Jeffersonville, the Town of Cambridge, and Smugglers’ Notch Resort (SNR) on sediment and stream bank management practices to address flooding and erosion concerns. Stormwater issues within the resort were also highlighted and discussed with SNR representatives and the public. A total of 38 potential project locations were identified and described in the RCP. Detailed project packets were completed for three high-priority projects.
FEA was retained by the Lamoille County Conservation District (LCCD) in 2017 to further develop river corridor restoration plans for several sites on the Brewster River along SNR property. This included design plans for berm removals to restore floodplain access (see section below), scoping of stormwater projects in the river corridor, and preliminary design for dam removal of the Morse Reservoir, an in-line pond in the Brewster River headwaters that SNR utilized for snowmaking and drinking water.
Smugglers' Notch Resort's Morse Reservoir, which FEA scoped for a dam removal on the Brewster River.
Client: Multiple Vermont State Agencies
The Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative (VERI) was developed in 2013 to address the long-term economic impacts of flooding and other disasters on communities throughout Vermont. The project was funded by the US Economic Development Administration and the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, who partnered with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Vermont Agency of Transportation, and several Regional Planning Commissions. Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA) was part of a team of consulting firms that assessed economic resiliency and local flood risks to buildings and infrastructure within an impacted community. FEA led the VERI study in Brandon, VT.
FEA conducted a detailed analysis of flood vulnerability and risks and developed a long-term community recovery strategy to reduce economic and infrastructure losses along the Neshobe River in Brandon, VT. Numerous major flooding events along the Neshobe had repeatedly caused severe damage to businesses, residences, and infrastructure within downtown Brandon and the surrounding area. In response to these repeat flooding events, the Town was proactive in adopting flood hazard regulations, conserving critical floodplain areas, and supporting the VERI efforts.
Public meetings and smaller group meetings with local leaders, municipal staff, local businesses, and interested citizens were critical for determining the locations of greatest flood risk and potential economic impact, and to identify the locations of potential projects to improve long-term economic resiliency and community recovery. FEA developed and reviewed several project recommendations to address the goals of the VERI project within the Town of Brandon including: flood proofing downtown businesses, installing a flood overflow culvert at a major repeat flooding location in downtown Brandon, replacing two undersized bridges, stabilizing a large slope failure that was threatening a town road and a water main, berm removal to restore access to an important forested floodplain, and flood proofing or relocating the town wastewater treatment facility.
2011 flooding during Tropical Storm Irene in Brandon, VT.
Client: Windham Regional Commission
In 2016, the Windham Regional Commission (WRC) and the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) selected East Branch North River, and its tributaries Branch Brook and Hager Brook, in southern Vermont for assessment of fluvial geomorphic and aquatic habitat conditions. Severe flooding and erosion damage sustained in 2011 during Tropical Storm Irene in the Towns of Halifax and Whitingham led to the selection of these tributaries for further study.
Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA) was retained by WRC in 2016 to complete river assessments on the east branch of the North River, Branch Brook, and Hager Brook following the VTANR Phase 1 stream geomorphic assessment protocols (VTANR, 2009a). FEA used the stream geomorphic assessment tool to develop the baseline geographic information system (GIS) data for the watershed in 2016. A total of 15 reaches along 16 river miles were assessed during the Phase 1 analysis. FEA completed the Phase 2 field work in 2016 for eight reaches (approximately 8.7 river miles) along the east branch of the North River and Branch Brook, and developed a river corridor plan for these reaches. Bridge and culvert assessments were completed at 21 stream crossings along the Phase 2 reaches. A total of 28 site-level project opportunities were identified within the study area, including the identification of two undersized bridges that were high priorities for hazard mitigation in the Town of Whitingham. FEA and partner firm MSK Engineers worked with the Town of Whitingham and WRC to advance a project to remove the undersized bridges near the Town offices to reduce downstream flood risk and improve geomorphic conditions.
Major overbank flooding during Tropical Storm Irene in Whitingham, VT.
Client: Lake Champlain Basin Program
In 2019, the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) and the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) selected the Rock River watershed for a cross-border stream geomorphic assessment. The Rock River watershed is evenly split between Vermont and Quebec and is known to contribute significant phosphorus loading to Missisquoi Bay. The Vermont portion of the watershed was previously assessed in 2006 for both Phase 1 and Phase 2. FEA was selected to complete Phase 1 and Phase 2 SGA for portions of the Rock River and tributaries in Quebec and complete a re-assessment of portions of the Vermont Phase 2 study reaches. The Phase 1 study covered 36 reaches and 43 kilometers in Quebec. 27 of the reaches in Quebec were selected for Phase 2 assessment along with 19 previously assessed reaches in Vermont, totaling 39 river miles (63 kilometers).
The Phase 2 assessments were completed in 2020 (Vermont) and 2021 (Quebec). The Quebec field effort was significantly delayed and complicated by COVID-19 travel restrictions. Structure assessments were completed on 9 bridges and 47 culverts. A total of 27 site-level project opportunities were identified in Vermont and 42 in Quebec. FEA worked closely with FNLC and OBVBM to prioritize projects and select 15 high priority projects for further concept design development. These projects included gully stabilization, stormwater BMPs, two-stage ditch implementation, floodplain restoration, and conservation. This project represented a very unique opportunity to assess an international watershed with significant water quality concerns in both Vermont and Quebec. FEA is currently completing the final report, which will be submitted to LCBP in October 2023.
A section of the Rock River with severe bank erosion and buffer degradation.
Client: Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA), in partnership with Milone & MacBroom, assisted the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) with the development of the Transportation Resilience Planning Tool (TRPT) from 2015 – 2019. Since that project, FEA has been assisting the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) with the development of methods and mapping for the Functioning Floodplains Initiative (FFI).
The damage to Vermont’s transportation system caused by flooding in 2011 illustrated the magnitude and scale of the system’s vulnerability to fluvial erosion and flooding across the state. In development and implementation of the TRPT, FEA screened of dozens of existing river-roadway datasets, assisted with development of new and novel metrics to measure flood vulnerability, and assisted with development of a construct for predicting the probability of road closure due to inundation, erosion, or deposition during moderate and large floods.
The Functioning Floodplains Initiative involves partnership between the State, UVM, and environmental consultants. The methods and tools developed during this project are tailored to a diverse user group of state, regional, and local planners seeking to identify, prioritize, and credit stream, wetland, and floodplain restoration projects. The TRPT Web Application, designed by Stone Environmental as a result of this project, is a web-based tool used to illustrate the impacts of vulnerability to the road networks. FEA is currently managing the statewide scoring geodatabase (which is uploaded for display on the web application) and is providing instruction on the use of this tool to Highway Departments across the state.
Road vulnerability for Whetstone Brook as displayed in the TRPT web application.