About the Batten Kill Watershed
The Batten Kill has its origins in the Green and Taconic Mountains of Vermont. The watershed area of about 450 square miles lies within nineteen towns of New York and Vermont. The river begins in forested headwaters and flows through towns, farms, fields, and forests, turning west to enter New York and join the Hudson.
This river flows through peaceful and scenic valleys, and provides habitat for trout and other wildlife, as well as recreation for swimmers, hikers, canoeists, tubers, and nature lovers. This river and its tributaries formed these valleys, and a hundred years ago they provided water power for early factories along with fertile alluvial flood plains for agriculture. The river system remains a force in the lives of the watershed communities, even if the primary role is now recreational.
The Batten Kill is nationally known as a trout stream. In the 1990s the trout population experienced a decline. Extensive scientific studies concluded in 2005 determined that the most likely factor was insufficient cover and shelter within the trout habitat. Cover and shelter for trout is provided by deep pools, overhanging banks, large rocks, and large trees and woody debris in the streambed. It is especially important for small to medium sized trout as protection from predators, floods, ice jams, and hot weather. Since then the Alliance and its partners have been installing cover and shelter structures in the Batten Kill. Monitoring of the trout population in the project sites has proven that this work can increase the carrying capacity of the river. The work continues in both NY and VT.
Severe floods in December 2000 and then in September 2011 caused great damage to roads, fields, and houses. Farmland is being lost to erosion. Impermeable paring lots grow in size and number, increasing run off, pollution, and sedimentation in streams and altering the balance of ground water absorption and flooding. The Alliance continues to work with landowners and local, state, and federal officials to mitigate these problems where possible through education, changes in land use, and planting buffer zones.
For a fascinating history of the Batten Kill, find yourself a copy of John Merwin's "The Battenkill." More than simply a history of the river or its watershed, Merwin's book is a unique combination of geology, natural history, and pre- and post-Colonial human history.