Deerfield River along the Molly Stark Trail near Wilmington, Vermont. Photo was taken from an iron bridge that crosses the river.
The RiverSmart Communities program combines social and river science, institutional and policy research, and community outreach at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to research and address river floods in New England. It is our vision that river management can restore the environmental integrity of rivers while ensuring that New England communities thrive in a world where floods naturally occur. To make this vision possible, our work aims to help New England’s communities become river-smart.
River-smart: Managing rivers and riverside landscapes, as well as our own actions and expectations, so people and communities are more resilient to river floods. Specifically: reducing flood severity, flood damage, and flood costs by understanding and accommodating the natural dynamics of rivers and river floods.
A key goal is to offer ideas and tools that can be used by people and groups across New England – land and river managers, riverside property owners, policy makers, government agency staff, community leaders, grass-roots activists, and others – so they can creatively build and advocate for systems that work for their own states and communities.
In this website you can find summaries of the many projects included in the RiverSmart Communities program. You can also find educational and outreach materials that may be used to promote sustainable river management in your community.
Deerfield River in Searsburg Vermont, looking downstream towards Searsburg Power Station - visible thorugh trees on right bank.
The power station was built in 1922. Water is diverted from the Deerfield at Searsburg Reservoir, about 3 miles upstream. It flows through a penstock that consists of a wooden pipe built from timbers. The pipe flows along National Forest Road 71 and Route 9, visible from the road for much of the way. It reenters the Deerfield at this power station, generating electricity in the process.
Deerfield River in Searsburg Bypass section, near the Searsburg-Wilmington line.
This reach used to be largely dewatered in the summer, but in recent years improved flow regulations have restored habitat for trout and other aquatic species.
Confluence of the Deerfield River and its West Branch, in Readsboro, Vermont. The Deerfield can be seen in the distance, flowing under the route 100 bridge on the east side of town.
Deerfield River water makes some interesting patterns as it flows over this dam in Monroe Bridge, MA - about a half mile below the Sherman Reservoir dam.
Looking upstream at the West Branch Deerfield River, from the Tunnel Street bridge in Readsboro Vermont. The confluence with the Deerfield is about 200 feet downstream from here.
Looking downstream towards the Deerfield River, at its confluence with the West Branch. The West Branch is in the immediate foreground, the Deerfield can be seen coming in from the left.
Looking upstream at the Deerfield River as it heads south from the confluence with the West Branch, just south of Readsboro.
Downstream view of Deerfield River, about 1/2 mile below its confluence with the West Branch in Readsboro.
The Deerfield River between Readsboro Vermont and Somerset Reservoir, which straddles the Vermont-Massachusetts border. This spot is about 1/2 mile above the head of the reservoir. The river's gradient has dminished significantly by this point. Both upstream branches consist largely of riffles for their last mile or more.