Removing Derelict Dams

VNRC is a founding member of FreeVTRivers, a group of river and fish biologists, anglers, community members, freshwater advocates and conservation organizations who would like to see our rivers restored and reconnected to support thriving fish populations, improved recreational access, and a river’s natural capacity to handle flooding. To get there, we facilitate dam removals across the state.

Vermont has more than 800 known dams, and we estimate that hundreds of them may serve no useful purpose. Instead, they degrade water quality and aquatic habitat, restrict the movement of fish and other wildlife, drive up costs in maintenance and liability, and pose significant risks to public safety. Since 1996, upwards of 30 unused dams have been removed from Vermont’s rivers and streams to improve public safety and benefit the environment. Many of these dams were privately owned.

In November 2019, VNRC completed its work to remove Mill Pond Dam on Indian Brook in Colchester. Indian Brook will gradually be restored to a free-flowing stream, to the benefit of aquatic ecosystem and public safety. This video shows the removal process and highlights the dam owner’s motivations for wanting to have the dam taken out.

The dam removal project reconnected 31 miles of stream, bringing Indian Brook closer to its natural free-flowing state and restoring habitat for a diverse aquatic habitat. Read more about the 2019 completion here and click here for an update about the floodplain’s progress in 2020.

In 2020, VNRC assisted in the removal of the Camp Wihakowi Dam at Bull Run in Northfield by the Friends of the Winooski River. VNRC contributed preliminary site review, design team consultation, and secured funding through a $50,000 grant for dam removal and engineering oversight from the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) and NEIWPCC.

Twenty-six miles of aquatic habitat will be reconnected, removing the last barrier to the Dog River headwaters, and public access will be expanded. Get more dam removal news here.

Our Victories

Girl drinking water

Removing Lead Fixtures from Schools

State house in fall with people on lawn

Furthering Environmental Justice

Advancing the Global Warming Solutions Act

Supporting and Strengthening Act 250

VNRC has been very effective in creating change in this area.

Fighting PFAS and Toxic Contamination

Protecting the Land and Views at Exit 4

Guiding Municipalities to Implement Act 171

Forming and Supporting Energy Committees

Protecting the LaPlatte River Marsh Wetlands

Ensuring Clean Streams at Jay Peak

Promoting Statewide Dam Safety

Preserving Downtown Bennington

Convening the Forest Roundtable

Creating Statewide Precedent on Biomass Electricity

Protecting Black Bear Habitat at Parker’s Gore

Securing Clean Water Funding

Maintaining Current Use

Banning Billboards

Declaring Groundwater as a Public Trust