Project At A Glance:
Restoring upper watershed streams to their natural functioning state is a priority in Vermont. Sugarbush Resort in Warren, VT contracted Watershed to design a cost-effective stream-restoration culvert retrofit that would allow fish to again swim upstream, and natural background sediment to move downstream.

Client: Sugarbush Ski Resort

Location: Warren, VT

Sugarbush Ski Resort is one of the oldest ski areas in the state. Many of its roads and smaller bridges were built using culverts that were sometimes too small. This has the potential to cause upstream flooding and downstream scouring.

In addition to the problems associated with upstream flooding such as road washouts and road bed destabilization, downstream scouring can cause the bed of a stream to sink, resulting in a ‘culvert waterfall’. This type of waterfall makes it difficult for vertebrate and invertebrate life to migrate up- and down-stream. Additionally, many of these older culverts are round which minimizes the stream bed surface within the culvert, creating a bottleneck both for stream water and for stream-dwelling organisms.

Watershed was brought in by Sugarbush to help them design the proper size and shape culvert for anticipated storm flows, as well as to find a design solution that would help in restoring the natural stream ecosystem. Using HydroCAD hydrologic and hydraulic analysis, a better solution was found for the stream crossing at Rice Brook using a flattened-bottom metal culvert with metal baffles that hold natural river stones and gravel in place.

This shape better mimics a natural stream bottom ecosystem, disperses flow and provides surface roughness to eliminate scouring, and provides a wider channel to allow higher flows to pass through with less resistance, minimizing upstream flooding.