The Winooski Watershed

Healthy Rivers

Learn how to keep our rivers and streams healthy, from source to sea! 

Ecology of Dog Poop

Learn all about this one, smelly example of how what happens upstream affects everything downstream in this interactive storymap.

Stormwater Problems

If storms are natural, stormwater must be too, right? Not necessarily. Rainfall in a natural setting is absorbed into the soil like water into a sponge. But when rain falls on pavement, rooftops, or compacted ground, it instead rushes quickly to a nearby stream or storm drain. The larger the impervious area, the more stormwater is created. Powerful surges cause erosion, flooding, and infrastructure damage, while picking up all sorts of stuff along the way like fertilizers, road salt, pesticides, dog poop, and vehicle fluids. Major stormwater events can overwhelm city sewers, causing sewage to discharge right into the river! As a result, water quality at river mouths or confluences can be much worse than upstream.

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Where did this water come from? Where is it going?

A watershed is any area of land that drains all its water (nebi) to a common destination. Here at NBNC you are standing in the Winooski River watershed. The water flowing past you fell as rain or snow on the mountains, forests, and farms of Worcester, Calais, and Elmore, then drained down tributary streams into the North Branch. From here, this water will join the main branch of the Winooski River in downtown Montpelier and then extend into Lake Champlain in Colchester.

Lake Champlain drains north, so this water will eventually leave Vermont and flow through Quebec along the Richelieu River and into the Saint Lawrence River. Finally, it will flow into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Experience the Water

Head down this side trail to Otter Rock for an up-close encounter with the North Branch. Notice how the water looks, sounds, smells, and feels. Is it warm or cold, fast or slow, freezing or thawing? What sound is the river (sibo) making today? Do you see anything floating down the river? Notice how much water is in the river today, and how the water level has changed since your last visit. 

Sibo means river in Abenaki, or literally "it extends."

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Coming Soon!

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7