and Kate Kelly, LCA Program Manager
Lewis Creek Association is excited to announce that funding from Watersheds United Vermont and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC) will allow us to convert a playing field behind the United Church of Hinesburg (UCH) back to a wetland. We have contracted with K. Bellavance, who will begin construction in July. The restored area will include native vegetation that will support pollinators and other species, while also improving water quality.
The water that flows through this area of the village of Hinesburg moves generally from east to west, draining into a ditch north of the UCH and then into the LaPlatte River (which drains into Lake Champlain at Shelburne Bay). It picks up stormwater from several residential developments, businesses, churches, and a portion of Route 116. This area of Hinesburg has been identified in two past studies as an important area for water quality improvement. Historic channel straightening, ditching and berming, filling of wetlands, and altered flow from stormwater runoff contribute to channel instability. The area behind the UCH was part of a larger wetland complex that had been converted to agriculture and then into playing fields. Wetlands are critical to maintaining water quality, allowing water to be naturally cleaned by wetland plants before heading downstream. Restoring the wetland will help to keep the river from becoming impaired due to phosphorus, which contributes to harmful algal blooms and fish die-offs in Lake Champlain. VT DEC Clean Water funds allowed earlier project development and design phases to be completed. The new funding will allow water in this area to flow through a more natural channel behind the church, and spread out into wetlands which will be planted with native species, then move on to the LaPlatte River. During construction, Stella Road will be inaccessible for about one week, so culvert replacements can be made to allow the water to pass under the road successfully.
The area’s proximity to town playing fields and Town Hall in the center of the village will allow it to function as an Ahead of the Storm demonstration project, showcasing water quality issues and habitat improvement through restoration. You can learn more about the problem and what landowners can do to improve water quality in a brief 17-minute presentation on LCA’s website at bit.ly/lca-wq-videos. These include things like slowing water down, spreading it out, and sinking it into the ground (“the three S’s” that are central to LCA’s Ahead of the Storm program. You can learn more about the Ahead of the Storm program at bit.ly/lca-aots). It is crucial that we all do our part to improve water quality in small ways, in order to improve Lake Champlain’s water quality and beauty, and to protect the animals and plants that live in our rivers and streams. Many thanks to our partners (SLR engineers, United Church of Hinesburg, and surrounding landowners including the Town of Hinesburg) and funding from Vermont’s Clean Water Fund (through Watersheds United Vermont). We look forward to completing a beautiful wetland restoration project and sharing it with you all!