Starksboro projects net climate funding

A PORTION OF Lewis Creek near the Starksboro-Bristol town line has been susceptible to flooding in recent years, as pictured here in the aftermath of the Halloween storm of 2019. The Addison County Regional Planning Commission recently received state climate funding to study the problem. Photo courtesy of Andrew L’Roe/ACRPC

STARKSBORO — A pair of Addison County Regional Planning Commission projects aimed at addressing issues in the Lewis Creek watershed in Starksboro have been selected to receive Vermont Flood Resilient Communities Fund grants totaling more than $113,000.

One project will clear an old bridge out of one of the creek’s tributaries. The other will study an area of the creek that’s prone to flooding.

The $4.8 million Flood Resilient Communities Fund (FRCF), which is made possible with money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), was established by the Legislature last year to improve landscape and community resilience and to reduce the future public safety and water quality impacts of climate-related flood hazards, according to the Vermont Department of Public Safety website.

“The state has been extremely efficient with getting this funding out and supportive of these projects,” said ACRPC Emergency Management Planner Andrew L’Roe. “The ARPA funding has made it possible to look at projects that would otherwise have been impossible under existing (Federal Emergency Management Agency) programs.”

ACRPC’s two Starksboro projects are among a dozen around the state that will receive a combined $2.1 million as part of the FRCF’s second round of funding, according to an April 26 media release. An initial round of funding in December totaled $2.6 million.

“It’s clear there’s a strong desire to protect against flood damage and to make the state a safer place for Vermonters,” Gov. Phil Scott said in the media release. “I commend the communities and organizations taking on these projects for their vision and commitment.”

ACRPC’s first project — to remove old bridge abutments and concrete in Hollow Brook, which feeds into Lewis Creek — received a grant for $81,900.

L’Roe said the application was in part inspired by a November 2021 article in the Addison Independent written by Kate Kelly, program director for the Lewis Creek Association (LCA).

LCA and local homeowners have partnered to improve water quality and reduce flooding risk in Starksboro near Lazy Brook Mobile Home Park on Hollow Road, Kelly explained. She cited a number of issues that have contributed to the area’s current condition, including:

  • past agricultural practices.
  • development.
  • the old bridge abutment.
  • runoff from roads upstream.
  • an inadequately sized culvert.

ACRPC partnered with LCA and the Addison County Community Trust, which manages the Lazy Brook Mobile Home Park, to apply for the grant, L’Roe said.

A second Hollow Brook project — the construction of a new bridge to replace the old one — was not tapped for an FCRF grant, but L’Roe said the organizations will continue seeking funding elsewhere.

ACRPC’s second FRCF project, a scoping study of Lewis Creek Reaches, received a grant of $31,500.

The area has seen repeated flooding in past years, most recently during the Halloween Storm of 2019, L’Roe said.

“We wanted to get the ball rolling on understanding and evaluating engineering options or providing recommendations for home elevation or offering voluntary buyouts if residents feel that’s the best option for them.”

ACRPC looks forward to helping manage these and other projects in the future, he said, and the Planning Commission always welcomes input from landowners and municipalities with ideas for projects that might improve water quality and improve flood resiliency.

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Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected]

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