Upper La Platte River Restoration Initiative

The Project: Thanks to a grant from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and our generous supporters, the Lake Champlain Land Trust and its partners are restoring more than a mile of riverbank along the Upper La Platte River in Shelburne, VT as part of a major five-year, 1,500+ tree restoration project.

Conserved in 2011 by the Lake Champlain Land Trust and its partners at the Vermont Zen Center, Town of Shelburne, and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the 65-acre Upper La Platte River Natural Area is open to the public for walking, birding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

The Impact: Once mature, the trees planted by the volunteers will help protect the water quality of Lake Champlain by trapping sediment and nutrients that would otherwise wash into Lake Champlain’s Shelburne Bay, which is the source of drinking water for over 60,000 residents.  By restoring nearly 5 acres of floodplain forest — which capture and soak up floodwaters that spill over riverbanks — this project will help lessen the impact from increasingly frequent and severe flood events related to climate change. This stretch of the La Platte River provides critical habitat for one of only two known populations of the rare Stonecat (a small nocturnal fish).

Related article: Read more about the Stonecat.

Progress Report: We did it! The planting portion of the project is complete. We planted over 1,500 trees with the help of over 175 volunteers, including students from Middlebury Union High School, Shelburne Community School, Vergennes Union High School, Middlebury College, and the University of Vermont.

View a photo gallery of our volunteers in action.

Partners: We would not be able to complete this major restoration project without the assistance of our partners at the Vermont Zen Center, the Intervale Center, and Lake Champlain Sea Grant, and landowners Peter and Sandy Dietrich.

Support: This restoration project is made possible thanks to funding from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Ecosystem Restoration Program and other generous supporters.

Next Steps: Restoring a floodplain forest can be labor intensive, and many hands make light work.  If YOU want to help protect the water quality of Lake Champlain as we move into the stewardship phase of the project, sign up to volunteer by sending an email to . We will be monitoring tree health and growth and removing invasive species to ensure a strong revival of the floodplain forest.

You can read more about how the Lake Champlain Land Trust works to protect water quality.