Illuminating the story of the Allen Brook

Observer courtesy photo
One of the interpretive signs, designed to educate residents about the Allen Brook watershed, recently installed along the Allen Brook Nature Trail.

New interpretive signs educate and inspire

By Melinda Scott

Special to the Observer

Pollution in Lake Champlain is a hot topic in the news these days, and many are aware of local and statewide efforts to improve our waterways. However, despite increased attention paid to water quality issues, many people lack an understanding of watershed dynamics, including how water flows from one area to another.

While watersheds can extend beyond political boundaries like town lines, the 6,900-acre Allen Brook watershed is almost entirely within Williston. In an effort to shed some light on basic watershed concepts as well as the unique attributes of the Allen Brook watershed, the Town of Williston Planning Department and Conservation Commission recently developed and installed a wayside interpretive exhibit. The exhibit consists of six interpretive signs in the Williston Community Park and along the Allen Brook Nature Trail. The signs highlight the natural and recreational benefits the Allen Brook provides, raise awareness of how development and stormwater disposal adversely affect the stream, and identify simple, effective actions that can be taken to protect the watershed.

The exhibit was funded in part by a Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife watershed grant. Technical and design assistance was provided by the Lake Champlain Basin Program through the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership wayside exhibit program. The Lake Champlain Basin Program has partnered with more than a dozen groups, including towns, not-for-profits, state parks and federal agencies, to develop wayside exhibits telling the unique local stories of the Lake Champlain region.

Now the Allen Brook is one of those stories.

The town is working with partner organizations and citizen volunteers to protect and restore Allen Brook and its watershed. Efforts are underway to manage urban and agricultural runoff and to plant riparian buffers to curb erosion. The goal is to restore Allen Brook so that the fish and bug populations return and the brook is removed from the state’s impaired waters list. Citizen participation, community education and sound management are essential to success.

Check out the new exhibit at the Williston Community Park and along the Allen Brook Nature Trail, or view a “virtual tour” at . To learn more about water quality and how you can help, visit the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s website at

Melinda Scott is a senior planner with the Town of Williston with a special focus on conservation.