‘A very impressive approach’
By Luke Baynes
Leave it to Mother Nature to have the last word.
A celebratory walkthrough of the recently restored Allen Brook watershed was cut short Tuesday when the skies opened and a deluge of pelting raindrops soaked to the skin a party that included town, state and federal officials.
It was the last laugh for the erosive forces of nature that have relegated the Allen Brook to the state’s 303(d) list of impaired watersheds since 1998.
As Williston Senior Planner Jessica Andreoletti noted prior to the aborted tour, the town has wrestled with the ravages of time and nature through land acquisition, conservation easements and federal and state grant dollars.
“There were a total of 18 acres that were planted with trees and shrubs, and we conserved 37 acres of land, either through land purchased, or through conservation easements,” Andreoletti said. “We really put the money into this project and you can really see the results.”
To be exact, $401,102 was spent on the Allen Brook restoration project.
Of that amount, 55 percent was from a federally administered State and Tribal Assistance Grant, 25 percent was from a state administered Stormwater Impaired Waters Restoration Fund grant, 15 percent was a town match (comprised of a combination of Environmental Reserve Fund and capital budget dollars from the last two fiscal years) and 5 percent was from other sources, including a state Clean and Clear grant and a Lake Champlain Basin Program grant.
In addition to land acquisition and the purchase of conservation easements, the funds were used to plant trees and shrubbery within the town’s 150-foot riparian buffer along the Allen Brook watershed.
Allyn Lewis, construction chief for the Vermont Facilities Engineering Division, praised the town of Williston, which was late to the game among the eight municipalities eligible for state administered watershed restoration funds due to unprecedented turnover in the Planning and Zoning Department in 2008.
“You had a lot to do, and we didn’t think you could get it all done in the time that you were allotted to do it, and I want to commend you for getting it done,” Lewis said.
Champlain Water District General Manager Jim Fay, whose territory spans wherever water flows in the Lake Champlain Basin, offered impromptu commentary as he surveyed the watershed just prior to the downpour.
“This is a very impressive approach that Williston took,” Fay said.
Williston Director of Planning and Zoning Ken Belliveau, who saved himself a thorough soaking by forgoing the afternoon field trip and holding down the fort at the Planning and Zoning Office, gave credit to both Andreoletti and prominent town landowners for the success of the restoration project.
“I think as much as anything, it speaks to some of the relationships we have with landowners in town, that we were able to get the cooperation and buy-in that we got from people,” Belliveau said. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment.”