Joy Ackerman, PhD
Department of Environmental Studies
The West River begins in the Green Mountains of Southern Vermont and flows southeasterly into the Connecticut River. The river has meandered back and forth while down cutting extensively since post glacial time to create the West River valley. The valley is a typical representation of similar valleys found throughout New England that are rather narrow and have significant agricultural activity along the alluvial bottom lands adjacent to the river. Today many of these areas continue to be farmed or are considered prime locations for development. Historical channel changes are particularly evident on the landscape in the lower reach of the river where abundant will preserved river terraces remain. The river continues to change on a constant basis today as it responds to the current climatic and hydrologic conditions. These changes are a natural process of a river system; however, they can often be aggravated by watershed development, river control structures such as rip-rap or other human impacts, resulting in higher rates of bank erosion. Streambank erosion can threaten both public and private investment in land and physical structures such as bridges, highways or buildings. The increased sediment load that is introduced into streams can have negative impacts upon the aquatic ecosystem. An analysis of a site with active bank erosion on the West River in Brookline, Vermont was conducted by performing a detailed site investigation and reviewing hydrologic data for the region. Practical bioengineering principles were reviewed and the contributing factors influencing bank instability that have led to erosion were identified. A preliminary stabilization proposal was developed utilizing the site data and bioengineered techniques.