Vermont River Conservancy

Founded by three people working for the State of Vermont water quality planning division, the nonprofit Vermont River Conservancy was established in 1995 to conserve land along Vermont's rivers and streams. The Vermont River Conservancy succinctly outlines their long-term goals within the mission statement, 'permanently conserve and protect special lands along the waters of Vermont' and abides to these words for all pursued projects. The inception of the Vermont River Conservancy was in response to private landowners posting popular waterway access land for termination of public use.

Swimming holes, waterfalls, gorges, rivers, lakes, ponds are highly valued to Vermont residents, the tourist industry along with wildlife populations and natural ecosystem services, such as flood resiliency. Various factors attribute to the threats public use and the integrity of Vermont's waters and waterside lands. These threats include the loss of public access, the increase of development in close proximity to waters edge and impervious surfaces, along with misuse of these common areas.

The Vermont River Conservancy acts as a land trust organization. Ideally, the Vermont River Conservancy will achieve conservation goals through the purchase of conservation easements. Conservation easements insure the protection of land permanently while it remains in private ownership. The appeal of conservation easements often stems from the flexibility of implementation and the ability to tailor to the landowners needs. Conservation easements are designed to cease infrastructure development in close proximity to waterways.

Through these conservation and preservation efforts, the Vermont River Conservancy remains a prominent leading conservation organization for the benefit of all Vermont stakeholders and natural areas.

Project Contact: Steve Libby
Project Contact Email:
Project Lifespan: 1995-present
Regional Planning Commision: None
Land Protection, partnerships, water
Other Keywords: Public Access, Fishing, Ecological Restoration of River Shore Lines, Planting Buffers
Project Accomplishments:

Through dedication, persistence and integrating the thoughts and ideas of community members involved, the Vermont River Conservancy has completed over 70 conservation projects. Successful projects have either entailed the purchase of land or conservation easements and overall ecosystem health assessments to monitor restoration progress. The extensive list of accomplishments can be found on the Vermont River Conservancy website.

Approximately 12 years ago, the Vermont River Conservancy initiated a conservation effort on the Nulhegan River in the Northeast Kingdom. Currently the Vermont River Conservancy has completed four projects along various segments of the river. There is a great deal of hope to eventually conserve the entire river and maintain its natural beauty.

Project Partners:

Watershed Groups:
White River Partnership
Friends of the Winooski River, etc.
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
Department of Environmental Conservation
Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
Local Municipalities / Conservation Commissions

Critical to Success:

The success of every completed project is a result of cooperative and willing landowners interested in participating in conservation projects. The majority of lands adjacent to Vermont waterways are privately owned. Therefore it is imperative to target private landowners and persuade land enrollment with the conservation easements to successfully conserve Vermont waterways for future generations. The funding of these conservation projects greatly influences the rate of completed projects. Without the support of partnerships and landowners, completion of conservation projects would not be nearly as efficient.


The most prominent obstacle faced by the Vermont River Conservancy is recruitment and retention of Vermont private landowners. Public awareness of these conservation easements and projects is often difficult to effectively convey to landowners due to the complexity of individual projects and lack of understanding of the conservation easements. It is essential to connect with landowners to reach a compromise to ensure all parties will be satisfied with the resulting decisions.
Capital funding is often a major challenge when attempting to implement these conservation projects. As a result, a recently new outreach coordinator position has been established with the Vermont River Conservancy to increase collaboration with landowners and continue to protect Vermont waterways.