State to improve North Thetford boat launch

Federal COVID-19 stimulus money is funding the addition of a new dock.

State to improve North Thetford boat launch

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wlidlife is planning a construction project at the North Thetford boat launch on Bridge Street next month, which it hopes to complete by Labor Day at the latest. The project will improve the boat ramp launch and add a new dock system providing improved accessibility for boaters. Mike Wichrowski, project manager, explained over email:

The Department has been interested in doing this work for quite some time now. Prior to installing the fishing platform at this site back in 2010 we heard a number of comments about improving the ramp and if we would be installing a dock. The ramp itself has been useable, but only because we make some minor repairs on a nearly annual basis. Over the past 10 years we have been working to upgrade these small plank ramps across the state by installing larger pre-cast slabs that are connected together. By doing this the ramp is more likely to resist forces from ice (likely not an issue here) and propeller wash. These forces can wreak havoc on a ramp by moving the smaller planks all over and can make the ramp unusable.

The project is funded by monies receiveed by Fish and Wlidelife from two separate COVID stimulus appropriations from Congress. It is being reviewed by Fish and Wildlife's Watershed Manamgent Division and the US Army Corps of Engineers  – "Any time we work in the water, the Army Corps needs to be consulted as a permit of some sort will always be required." – before being started. The ramp will be closed for about 4 days while the work is completed.

Any plans for site improvement at the Ompompanoosuc boat launch in Norwich?

Given the ramp’s location, any work we would do here would likely disappear within 1-3 years due to all the silt in this portion of the river.  However, it remains a great location for paddlers.

The designs below were obtained from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As a side note, I was curious why ice was "likely not an issue" at the North Thetford boat launch. The answer from Mike:

I don’t know that the river freezes on a regular basis like our lakes and ponds because it is flowing water.  Even if it did freeze, the ice forces that cause damage to our ramps really aren't a factor on rivers and streams.  As ice grows on the lakes and ponds, it continually expands and those forces can push the ramps up out of the lake or horizontally along the shoreline.  I’ve never seen ice damage on any of our river ramps.

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