Efforts to remove a 13-foot dam are well underway in Northfield.
The Friends of the Winooski River Watershed Group teamed up with landowners Lisa and Jonathan Burr to restore an area that relies on the Dog River.
The derelict dam caused sediment and gravel to build up for over 100 years, but crew members are chipping away at the wall.
“We’re getting rid of all of that sediment that unnaturally got stuck behind the dam to recreate the river channel through this area,” said Project Engineer Jessica Louisos.
She told me the dam cut off the river’s natural course, which disrupted ecosystems and caused considerable damage from floods, especially after tropical storm irene 9 years ago.
“Where we are standing it was under 8 feet of water,” said landowner Lisa Blurr.
She and her husband own the property where they operate their conference center and lodging facility, Woods Lodge. In order to make the nature land usable, the dam had to go.
“Now the water is going to have the ability to flow freely. There was so much sediment and so much silt that had been deposited down here that the river had nowhere to go,” said Blurr.
But that’s changing, and the historical channel will continue being a home for native brown and brook trout.
“Believe it or not…fish could come up this little bedrock outcrop but they couldn’t come up the 13-foot dam before,” said Ecological Coordinator Karina Dailey.
The grounds crew also plans to restore the flood plains by planting hundreds of trees to create a park-like area for visitors.
“I mean it definitely makes you feel good about getting this back to a natural state and just being a part of keeping things green,” said Blurr.
Soon, the river will reconnect ecosystems connected to Lake Champlain and become a treasured spot for all nature lovers.