Increasing aquatic habitat knowledge and stewardship in the Lewis Creek watershed

Lewis Creek with riparian shading. Photo contributed. Increasing aquatic habitat knowledge and stewardship in the Lewis Creek watershed.

Lewis Creek is one of Vermont’s most ecologically diverse streams. With increasing habitat degradation due to river encroachment by development and roads, land-use change and more extreme weather events, the Lewis Creek Association (LCA) is working with Milone & MacBroom, Inc. to identify important refugia locations to conserve or restore Lewis Creek’s brook trout fishery. Refugia are pools of cooler water temperatures within streams, which enable brook trout and other cold-water species to survive periods of higher temperatures during the summer. Refugia can be preserved by leaving logs and other structures in streams, by allowing floodplains and backwaters to exist, and by maintaining riparian shading. These refugia will become especially important with increasing temperatures due to climate change.

This project will build on previous work conducted by LCA and, in the process, will inform and educate community members in the Lewis Creek watershed. Community members and volunteers will be invited to attend a field trip where they will learn about stream ecology and how to protect stream fish and wildlife habitat, even in the face of climate change. This project will help promote community interest in the long-term stewardship of Lewis Creek, due in part to the increased knowledge gained by community members.

LCA is committed to improving the quality of fish and wildlife habitat throughout middle Lake Champlain Valley watersheds. LCA will be hosting a talk by Mike Kline of Fluvial Matters, LLC from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, along with a field trip on Saturday, Nov. 16, in the afternoon to visit one of the sites chosen as a refugia location and discuss what landowners can do to improve habitats for fish and wildlife.

If you are a landowner, fisherperson or an interested citizen who would like to learn how to help protect our natural resources, please contact Kate Kelly at [email protected] or visit our website for more information on these upcoming events.

Kate Kelly is the LCA program manager and Matthew Gorton is an LCA board member.