Lewis Creek begins on the western flanks of the Green Mountains and winds its way westward for 30 miles through Addison County to join Lake Champlain. The creek is a priority for clean water initiatives, and farmers who have land near or along the creek are essential to protecting it.
In Starksboro, one farming couple has long adopted environmentally minded practices. Dairy farmer Eric Clifford is the eighth generation of Cliffords to work the family land, located on Route 116. He and his wife, Jane, recently installed a new manure handling system and they cover crop their corn fields to reduce erosion. This year, the Cliffords went further when they protected 190 acres of the farm, which includes portions of Lewis Creek and some of its tributaries.
In partnership with VLT and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Jane and Eric designated a 33-acre ‘river corridor’ along nearly a mile of the creek. Within this protected area, the creek will be allowed to naturally overflow and change course, thus reducing the impact of floods further downstream. A naturally vegetated area must be maintained along a 50-foot-wide strip on both sides of the water. These trees and shrubs will help prevent erosion and run-off.
Protecting this section of Lewis Creek will also benefit the wildlife around the farm. Bear regularly use the creek, and each spring they feed on the early greenery along its tributaries. Our staff also found signs of deer, moose, and coyote using the land for shelter and food.
The river corridor was funded by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Conservation of the farmland was funded by VHCB (with matching funds from USDA NRCS).