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Testing the strength of Vermont streams

NSF Award:

Adaptation to Climate Change in the Lake Champlain Basin: New Understanding through Complex Systems Modeling  (University of Vermont & State Agricultural College)

Congressional Districts:
Research Areas:

Tropical storm Irene devastated Beaver Brook in Wilmington, Vt. To repair surrounding land, recovery dredging was needed. Elise Huntley, a Streams Project high school intern with Vermont EPSCOR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), took the opportunity to study the impact of hurricanes and their subsequent flood events on water quality. She discovered that these events do not adversely affect water quality and overall recovery of Vermont streambeds.

For her study, Huntley took water samples and analyzed the variety and density of macroinvertebrates to determine the stream's overall health. Macroinvertebrates, such as insects, crustaceans and spiders, are a good gauge of stream health because they are sensitive to pollutants. The results indicated that the macroinvertebrates were repopulating to their normal levels two months following the flooding and subsequent dredging.

Huntley concluded that Vermont streams are resilient to flood events, an idea contrary to the widely held belief that flooding and stream dredging have a negative impact on the overall health of streams. The young scientist won several high-school level awards and serves as an example of how Vermont EPSCoR is helping to shape future scientists.


  • elise huntley won the vermont state science and math fair with a project on stream health
Elisa Huntley won the Vermont State Science and Math Fair with her stream project.
Lillain Gamache

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