As the Northeast takes a wintertime breather from its river and stream recovery efforts in the wake of tropical storm
Irene, a couple things come to mind. First, this act of God is likely not the last the Eastern Seaboard will see in the coming years, as a changing climate is pushing more and more powerful named storms ashore. And second, recovery and restoration efforts need to be carefully planned and executed.
Over the last several months, TU’s home office has been deluged with calls from concerned members, particularly in Vermont, New Hampshire and upstate New York, decrying emergency response to the storm and how, in an effort to do the right thing, vital trout habitat was being sacrificed as stream channels were dredged, river courses were changed and rip rap deflectors were installed. The knee-jerk reactions all over New England were understandable, but as TU members from the region were quick to point out, they were knee-jerk reactions, and they were inappropriate. In the long run, they probably did more harm than good.
This article from the Burlington Free Press talks about how some efforts to fix streams in the White River watershed in Vermont made the drainage more susceptible to future problems, including big storm events and more flooding, which is predicted by climate scientists all over the world.
TU and its members have a long history of restoring degraded and damaged habitat, both from natural and man-made events. We know how to do it, and we know how to do it right. When the snow melts, and efforts begin again to fix the damage inflicted by nature, we urge a cautious, pragmatic approach with an eye to the future, and not just with trout or fishermen in mind. How we manage our rivers affects all of us, for generations to come. And TU and its members stand ready to help.