For many of our more local visitors, this may interest you:
Drivers who commute back and forth along Route 315 are well acquainted with the “hill”. From Dorset side cars scale a more or less steady uphill for nearly three miles before cresting the top (right where Merck’s driveway starts). At the apex, if you continue along the road toward Rupert, the hill very quickly drops for a quarter mile. The steep descent can be thrilling and a little nerve-wracking in icy conditions, or a good way to burn out your brakes if you don’t shift down gears.
On the steep side of the hill, water runoff in lesser weather events is diverted to ditches one side of the road or the other, and usually over the course of a year minor erosion takes place. However, during Hurricane Irene, the roadside eroded much more quickly. Some minor repair was done in the aftermath of the 2011 storm, but now the real repair is taking place.
The Bennington County Conservation District received an Ecosystem Restoration Program grant from the state of Vermont in 2011 to prepare a river corridor plan for the Mill Brook and White Creek watershed, part of which begins on Merck Forest’s property. Through a series of four steps, including GIS analysis, field research, interviews with landowners, and work on site, as well receipt of a Vermont Stream Alteration permit, work has started on several areas of the watershed in and around Rupert. The ditch along the top of Route 315, and partially on Merck’s property, being one of the projects.
The reason this project is important is that remediation of the banks will improve water quality, flood resiliency, and wildlife habitat for a variety of species. Eroding banks cause streams to gather silt, which, over time, harms the ecosystem present in the watershed.
This fall the ditch will be dug again, the stream bed harden, and the banks armored with rock, and in 2015 willow tree slips will be planted to help stabilize the slope.
For a broader understanding of the project and what the work entails, email firstname.lastname@example.org.