From its headwaters in Lowell, the Missisquoi River meanders through valleys, tumbles down gorges, and crosses the border into southern Quebec before flowing into Lake Champlain. The river is a priority in the state’s clean water initiatives.
Sheldon wetland restored
The northern boundary of Terry and Joan Magnan’s farm in Sheldon runs along the Missisquoi for nearly a mile. The Magnans raise heifers and run a compost business on 215 acres conserved with VLT in 2000. The original easement protected the farmland from development but didn’t address the river or wetland areas.
Part of this land was historically a wetland. It had been drained, with a ditch diverting water to a stream, and used as a hayfield. The Magnans decided to join with VLT on restoring the wetland and protecting the river. “Wetlands are like sponges—they can retain water and reduce run-off and erosion into rivers and streams,” says VLT ecologist Allaire Diamond.
VLT worked with consultants on the restoration. Hummocks and hollows were created to re-establish the natural flow of water between the field and an adjacent forested wetland. A culvert was enlarged to contain flood waters and provide safe passage for fish. VLT and its partners planted willow, dogwood, and maples, and spread seeds of native wetland plants. “Wetland animals like kingfishers and great blue herons have already returned,” says Allaire. “We’re partnering with the Missisquoi River Basin Association to plant more wetland shrubs.”
A river corridor easement was added to the existing conservation protections. The river will not be constrained and a 50-foot-wide area along its banks will not be farmed.
Trees planted, river protected
Further east, the Missisquoi runs along the Westfield–Troy town line on farmland owned by Tony Brault. Tony runs a beef farm and the popular Brault’s Meat Market. He operates part of his business on 219 acres in Troy and Westfield that were conserved with VLT in 1995.
The Missisquoi is very active on Tony’s farm, meaning it moves a lot and cuts into land, causing erosion. With the changing climate, the river is also dealing with more rain than before. Tony worked with VLT, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, and The Nature Conservancy to protect nearly three and a half miles of the river and its tributaries, 35 acres of wetlands, and 79 acres of land. The river will be able to change course naturally. Land 50 feet from banks will have native vegetation to reduce future erosion; Vermont Youth Conservation Corps planted 925 trees there.
Funded by DEC, and Bari and Peter Dresissigacker (Magnan property). Funded by DEC and The Nature Conservancy under a grant from Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. (Brault property).