The science of fluvial geomorphology (the study of the physical processes by which river channels and the lands adjacent to them are formed and maintained), and the related concept of "dynamic equilibrium" have played a major role in improving our understanding of our rivers - and of how best to manage them - in recent years. (For more details, see this document.)
Vermont's River Management Program Stream Geomorphic Assessment protocols (available online here ) help landowners, municipalities, and agencies understand to what extent our streams are out of dynamic equilibrium and why, and offer suggestions as to how to return natural stability to our watercourses. Upon completion of up to three levels of assessment, from lesser to greater levels of detail, municipalities are provided the basic tools with which to design river corridor protection plans. Among these tool is the "fluvial erosion hazard zone" (FEH) ordinance and overlay district. FEH zones are those found to be particularly vulnerable to potentially devastating erosion or channel relocation during flood events, and where, for those reasons, further development is limited. (See this guide for information on fluvial erosion hazards.)
BCCD has served as project manager for assessments in the Walloomsac watershed in the Towns of Bennington and Woodford, and in the White Creek/Mill Brook watershed in the Towns of Rupert and Sandgate. The Walloomsac/Roaring Branch report for the Town of Bennington, is available online. The Bolles Brook/City Stream report for the town of Woodford, is available online. The White Creek and Mill Brook Phase 2 report is available online.
In February 2008, the Town of Bennington Select Board unanimously voted to accept a river corridor protection plan for the Walloomsac and Roaring Branch; direct the town's Planning Commission to create a Fluvial Erosion Hazard Zone overlay plan; and to pursue two projects designed to restore stability on the Roaring Branch in downtown Bennington. The Fluvial Erosion Hazard Zone ordinance was adopted by the Select Board in April 2009. The Channel Management and River Corridor Protection Plan is available online, (plus appendices).