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Vermont's Strategic Watershed Planning Approach

Protecting and Improving Vermont's Impaired Watersheds

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. 

Beginning in 2016, four watersheds were selected for accelerated and targeted agricultural practice implementation over the next 5 years.  The four watersheds selected were the

Rock RiveThese watersheds will receive prioritized financial and technical assistance over the next 4 yearsr

Pike River

St. Albans Bay 

McKenzie Brook Watershed

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.

 Additional watersheds will be added to the effort beginning in 2018.

These four impaired watersheds will receive prioritized financial and technical assistance over the next three years in an effort to protect and improve water quality. Learn more about the plan for each watershed below.

NEW! Estimated phosphorus reductions for each watershed are now available in the fact sheets below

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