ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is collaborating with state, federal and community partners to support Tropical Storm Irene-damaged fish habitats in Vermont, a state where fishing annually generates at least $63 million.
Trout populations were significantly impacted by Irene in some areas, and are as historically and culturally important to Vermonters as they are economically.
“Equally important to your average Vermonter is the heritage and culture of fishing,” said Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Commissioner Patrick Berry. “The most popular sport fish in Vermont is the brook trout, a fish that often lives in the kinds of rivers and streams that were most directly impacted by the tropical storm. When you have miles and miles of stream that are affected, that hurts not only the state’s pocket book, but it hurts your average Vermonter who wants to get out on a weekend with his kids and go catch their favorite fish, the brook trout.”
Berry represents the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, one of several organizations working alongside FEMA to support Tropical Storm Irene-damaged fish habitats in Vermont. The White River Partnership; the town of Rochester; Green Mountain National Forest; Vermont’s Department of Fish and Wildlife; the U.S. Forest Service; Trout Unlimited; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program are also part of the unique collaboration.
The White River Partnership, a South Royalton-based non-profit, has worked with the town of Rochester to secure funding to enhance culverts that clogged and failed during Tropical Storm Irene. The culverts will be rebuilt stronger and larger to allow more storm debris to pass. What’s more, the culverts will be reconstructed using sand, rocks and other elements to mimic natural, more eco-friendly passages for the fish. This modern approach of stream reconstruction and restoration creates a more balanced, natural stream system that, among other benefits, provides a more seamless transit for fish.
The first of the culverts was ordered in mid-July. The culvert is scheduled to arrive in mid-August to be installed on North Hollow Road. As many as three culvert installations may be completed during the 2012 season; the remaining four will likely be completed in 2013.
One creative approach will be to replace a culvert that was damaged at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Rochester with a discarded bridge unearthed from a salvage yard by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Reclaiming and repurposing the discarded bridge will cost just $8,500. This is just one example of how recycled materials are being repurposed in the reconstruction process.
FEMA has produced a video highlighting much of the work these organizations are accomplishing together. To view the video, visit: www.fema.gov/medialibrary/media_records/9347.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.