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Vermont's Strategic Watershed Planning Approach

Protecting and Improving Target Watersheds in Vermont

Vermont NRCS Strategic Watershed Planning Approach

GOAL: Measurable Water Quality Improvements

NRCS’s Lake Champlain Strategic Watershed Planning Approach was created to accelerate improved water quality in critical areas by collaborating with partners to provide outreach, education, technical, and financial assistance to agricultural producers. This effort will help farmers in meeting the agricultural phosphorus reductions identified in the Lake Champlain Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  

State, federal and local partners developed a multi-factor ranking process to identify the most critical subwatersheds for accelerated agricultural conservation practice implementation.  Factors included, but were not limited to, the amount of agricultural phosphorus runoff to the lake, areas with the most significant water quality problems, and watersheds with significant public interest. 

Six watersheds were selected for accelerated and targeted agricultural practice implementation over the next 5 years:

Rock River

Rock River Watershed Summary Fact Sheet 2021

Rock River Watershed Action Plan 2018-2020NRCS-Vermont Targeted Watersheds

Pike River

Pike River Watershed Summary Fact Sheet 2021

Pike River - Lake Carmi Watershed Action Plan 2018-2020

St. Albans Bay

Saint Albans Bay Watershed Summary Fact Sheet 2021

Saint Albans Bay Watershed Action Plan 2018-2020

McKenzie Brook

McKenzie Brook Watershed Summary Fact Sheet 2021

McKenzie Brook Watershed Action Plan 2018-2020

East Creek

East Creek Watershed Summary Fact Sheet 2021

East Creek Watershed Action Plan 2018-2020

Hungerford Brook

Hungerford Brook Watershed Summary Fact Sheet 2021

Hungerford Brook Watershed Action Plan 2018-2020

NRCS developed watershed plans for each of the selected watersheds. These plans include: a resource assessment for the watershed, development of watershed phosphorus reduction goals that are tied to the new TMDL requirements, and detailed action plans to implement the plan.  The development of the plans was guided by local watershed groups, comprised of state and federal partners, local watershed groups, concerned citizens, and local farmers.

The watershed plans will be used by NRCS and partners to:

  • Identify potential critical areas on farms for conservation practice implementation
  • Set phosphorus reduction and practice implementation goals for each watershed
  • Estimate funding required to implement needed conservation practices
  • Identify actions required to meet goals in each watershed
  • Track progress in reaching goals over time

As part of each watershed project, a Partnership Agreement was developed with various organizations to assist with contacting farmers, helping with Farm Bill program signups, and serving as case managers for the farmers. 

NRCS partners include: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources-Department of Environmental Conservation; Vermont Agency of Ag, Food, and Markets; USDA Farm Service Agency; Vermont Association of Conservation Districts; Lake Champlain Basin Program; University of Vermont Cooperative Extension; the US Fish and Wildlife Service; the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain; the Champlain Valley Farmers Association; St. Albans Area Watershed Association; Franklin Watershed Association; and the Lake Carmi Watershed Association.

These six impaired watersheds are/were receiving prioritized financial and technical assistance to protect and improve water quality. Learn more about the plan and progress for each watershed below.

note: the watershed plans are large files and will take time to download

Strategic Areawide Conservation Planning in Six HUC 12 Watersheds in Vermont, SWCS Poster Session, July 2020, by John M. Thurgood and Margaret L Rupe

Result graphs for McKenzie Brook, Pike, and St. Albans Bay Watersheds