By Veronica Hinke, FEMA External Affairs
Half of the fish were wiped out by Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont, a state where fishing generates $63 million annually. Trout populations were significantly impacted by the storm in some cases, and are as historically and culturally important to Vermonters as they are economically.
The challenging recovery process, one of the most extensive in Vermont history, has provided a unique opportunity for federal, state and local partnerships.
In the town of Rochester, FEMA is working with the White River Partnership, the town of Rochester, Vermont’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program, and the U.S. Forest Service.
The White River Partnership, non-profit based in South Royalton, Vt., worked with the town of Rochester to secure enhancement funding. Culverts, which clogged and failed during Tropical Storm Irene, will be rebuilt stronger and larger to handle more storm debris, and will be enhanced with sand, rocks and other elements to mimic natural, more eco-friendly passages for fish.
One creative approach in the process will be to replace a culvert that was damaged in Rochester’s Woodlawn Cemetery with a discarded bridge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recycled from a salvage yard. Reclaiming and repurposing the discarded bridge will cost just $8,500.
View a FEMA video about the work that is being accomplished to support Vermont’s fish populations.