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River Corridor Protection

Aerial view of river corridor and surrounding fields and wooded areas

The Vermont Rivers Program promotes the protection of river corridors through its River Corridor Easement Program.  The intent of this program is to provide a financial incentive to landowners to allow for passive restoration of channel stability by allowing the natural erosive forces of the river to establish its least erosive form over time.  Under a river corridor easement, the landowner sells their river channel management rights within the meander belt width corridor of sensitive and erosive streams. The purpose of the program is to reduce conflict with unstable streams and maximize the public benefits associated with geomorphically stable streams and floodplains. Priority is given to those projects, identified in river corridor plans, which protect or restore the flow, sediment, and nutrient attenuation areas within Vermont river basins. Channel management rights are purchased as part of a stand-alone easement or as an amendment to other land conservation easements.

The width and configuration of river corridors are defined by the Vermont Rivers Program to accommodate the natural processes, meander pattern and slope of the stream in its equilibrium condition. Upon selling the channel management rights, the landowner is restricted from intervening with erosion and channel adjustments within the corridor. River corridor easements may be transacted as part of larger river restoration projects and in conjunction with the other conservation practices and programs.  Agriculture and silviculture are permitted within the river corridor easement area.  The three primary components of a river corridor easement are:

  • Transfer of channel management rights to a land trust
  • No new structures/development within the river corridor
  • A minimum 50 ft. riparian buffer of native woody vegetation whose location floats with the river

Easement Map example

Additional Protection Resources:

Screenshot of Natural Resources Atlas showing River Corridor Easement