Habitat Restoration

Old timers say fishing on the Batten Kill, one of the most famous brown trout streams in North America, isn't what it used to be. Creel surveys conducted by the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife from 1994 to 1999 confirmed this observation, documenting a decline in the number of catchable size brown trout of 54%. But why?

Beginning in 2000, the interagency Batten Kill Study Team looked for answers. Research into several possible stressors concluded in 2005, with the finding: "Of all the possible causes for the brown trout population decline investigated by the Batten Kill Study Team, the most compelling finding is that of there being inadequate fish cover in the river." (Batten Kill Trout Management Plan, 2007-12, by Kenneth Cox, Fisheries Biologist, dated January 8, 2006.)

In November 2018, the fisheries biologist for the Batten Kill, Lee Simard, updated that document in a presentation to the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance at its annual meeting. You can view that presentation here.

Batten Kill Habitat Restoration

Habitat Restoration on the Batten Kill
Photo: USFS GMNF

Beginning in 1994, BCCD served as project coordinator for several habitat restoration projects on the Batten Kill, and beginning in 2008, as permit coordinator for projects led by the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance. Early work focused on stabilizing stream banks using natural channel design techniques, and on restoring riparian buffers. In recent years, providing in-stream cover and shelter has become primary.

The habitat restoration project team has included the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance, Central Vermont Public Service, landowners, Southwestern Vermont Trout Unlimited, The Orvis Company, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service Partners for Fish & Wildlife, USFS Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife, and many volunteers.

In autumn 2018, BCCD, the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance, the CISMA BKWA steward Elana Feldman, students from Burr and Burton Academy and Bennington College, and volunteers from Trout Unlimited planted about 200 containerized native trees and shrubs in a 2.5 acre buffer zone on the Kill in Manchester.