Beaver Meadows wetland complex – Class I classification

This project was to have the Beaver Meadow’s wetland complex classified as a Class I wetland with a 400’ buffer, vs. the normal 100’ buffer. The 66-acre Beaver Meadow wetland complex is located within the towns of Ripton and Bristol with a small section in Middlebury, and is wholly within the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF). It is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The Beaver Meadows complex has been identified as an Ecological Special Area by the US Forest Service.

Beaver Meadows is a high elevation wetland complex that drains into both the New Haven and Middlebury Rivers. The Middlebury River in particular has high flood risk and is protected in part by this wetland. Abundant beaver activity has provided natural damming to hold back water from storms and snow melt. The deep peaty muck and surrounding wetlands allow for the absorption and slow release of water, which reduces flooding potential downstream and helps to offset or delay drought conditions. Because of the unique nature and headwaters position of this wetland contributing to the protection of two watersheds, the wetland is considered irreplaceable for this function.

The Beaver Meadow wetland complex overall is significant for all ten (10) functions and values as identified under Vermont Wetland Rules and is considered exemplary or irreplaceable for three of them – exemplary natural community, irreplaceable for flood and water storage, and education and research opportunities (data has been collected in the beaver meadow wetland complex for decades). The Wetlands Program completed a Vermont Rapid Assessment Method used to evaluate overall wetland quality and condition during a 2016 site visit. The Beaver Meadows complex scored a 100 out of a 100-point total; indicating reference condition. The Beaver Meadows wetland complex provides immense ecological value as habitat for wildlife and plants, including a number of rare, threatened and endangered species.

Project Contact: Zapata Courage
Project Contact Email:
Year Project Started: 2017
Year Completed: 2019
Project Lifespan: 2 years
Bristol, Ripton
Regional Planning Commision: Addison County Regional Planning Commission
Land Protection, water, wetland
Other Keywords: Wetland Classification
Project Accomplishments:

Having the Beaver Meadow’s wetland complex classified as a Class I wetland will ensure that this wetland is protected forever. This supports the Vermont Wetland rules goal to “… to identify and protect significant wetlands and the values and functions which they serve in such a manner that the goal of no net loss of such wetlands and their functions is achieved.”

Providing the 400’ buffer, vs. the normal 100’ buffer, will:

• maintain a large canopy in order to maximize the protection of the ecological integrity of the peatland complex and the wildlife habitat it provides,

• minimize adverse effects on the quality of surface water entering the wetland,

• provide protected suitable habitat for foraging and overwintering by reptiles and amphibians.

Project Partners:

Bristol Conservation Commission
VT DEC Wetlands Program

Critical to Success:

Zapata Courage Wetlands Ecologist/Biologist
Access to previous research performed in the Beaver Meadows wetland complex area.


Organizing and reading the large amount of research and data available about this wetland complex.

Project Picture: