2008-11-27 / Front Page

W.R. Partnership Wins Conservation Award

Rivers don't care what towns they are flowing through.

That's the common-sense assumption made by two Vermont organizations, including the White River Partnership, that have just won an Eastern Region Honor Award from the U. S. Forest Service.

Both the Partnership and the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance, the other award-winner, enlist residents of many communities in their campaigns to protect the health of two beloved rivers, the White and the Batten Kill respectivley.

This creative regional approach is more effective than an organization based on particular towns, counties, or regional planning districts. Thus, the award the two organizations received was for "Protecting Ecosystems Across Boundaries."

The Green Mountain National Forest was also named an award winner, because of it's financial and staff support of the two river-based organizations. Representatives of all three groups will travel to Milwaukee, Wisc. next month to accept their awards for their nearly decade-long efforts to restore stream health.

"Our restoration efforts in the White River watershed would not be possible without the technical and resource assistance provided by the Forest Service and a host of other partners," said Mary Russ, executive director of the White River Partnership. "Together we have completed almost 20 miles of river and riparian improvements since 1996. We are honored to receive this award."

Though a small percentage of the two major watersheds are on National Forest lands, Forest Service staff members work with the Partnership and the Alliance on both public and private lands.

"Effective management and protection of river and riparian resources requires working across land jurisdiction," said Green Mountain National Forest Fisheries program manager Steve Roy.

Cynthia Browning of the Batten Kill Alliance praised the help of the "terrific" GMNF experts in helping to restore the legendary fishery habitat on that southern Vermont river.

"All the fish in the river say thank you for the work and thank you for the award," she said.

The White River Partnership had its beginning in a sizeable federal grant secured by former Randolph resident Dennis Borchardt, while he was director of the George D. Aiken Resources and Conservation (RC&D) District.

The partnerships have been so successful that approximately $100,000 to $200,000 of GMNF funds have been matched by the two organizations each year over the past seven years.

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