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River Management and Permits


The Rivers Program provides regulatory review and technical assistance to landowners, municipalities and other agencies to help determine the appropriate channel management practices necessary to resolve conflicts with river systems. The practices selected will be designed to recognize and accommodate, to the extent feasible, the stream's natural stable tendencies. The recommended conflict resolution will recognize the stream's long term physical response to past and proposed management practices. The resulting work will provide increased property and infrastructure protection and will maintain or enhance the ecological functions and economic values of the river system. For more information see Managing Streams Toward Equilibrium

Click here for River Management Engineer contact information


Regulations and Permits

Most in-channel management activities and new projects like bridges, culverts or utility crossings require regulatory action by the Rivers Program. State jurisdictional thresholds and guidance on permit applications are provided within the documents below or by contacting the River Management Engineer in your area.


  • Stream Alteration Permits: General and individual stream alteration permits regulate activities that take place in or along streams.
  • Stream Crossing Structures: Stream crossing structures include any structure type (i.e., bridges, box, arch, culvert, truss or other type of structure intended to convey people, animals, vehicles or materials from one side of the stream to another).

A permit is required for movement, excavation, or fills involving 10 or more cubic yards annually in any perennial stream.  See program Guidance for the Identification of Perennial Streams. The Stream Alteration General Permit establishes several watershed area-based thresholds that influence the level of regulatory authority that will be applied to a planned stream alteration activity. Depending on the type of activity anticipated, it is necessary to determine the watershed size at the location of the proposed project, relative to the regulatory thresholds. Is the watershed size:

  • Less than 0.5 square miles;
  • 0.5 square miles or greater, but less than 1.0 square miles;
  • 1.0 square miles or greater, but less than 10.0 square miles; or
  • 10.0 square miles or greater?

Maps of watershed size ranges are available to assist in the determination of watershed size at the location of any proposed stream alteration activity:


Stream Watershed Sizes mapped for each Vermont town as Guidance for Stream Alteration Regulations.

Select your town from the list to the right to view the PDF map for that town. PDF file sizes range from about 300KB to about 2.8MB.

Stream Watershed Sizes
(PDF maps)


Gravel Removal and Prospecting
gravel mining image

Once a widespread commercial activity in Vermont's rivers, gravel removal is now restricted to maximum annual volumes for landowner's use and for the maintenance or restoration of stream channel stability. As a commercial activity, gravel mining has proven to be extremely damaging to natural stable stream functions and has greatly increased flood and erosion damages in Vermont on stream systems that have experienced extensive mining in the past. Information on how to get assessment of potential stream sedimentation problems, approval for gravel removal projects and the effects of gravel removal on stream stability is provided in the documents below or by contacting the River Management Engineer in your area.

Mineral prospecting activities in Vermont streams are regulated under 10 V.S.A. 41, Section 1021(h)(1). Operation of suction dredges is prohibited. Operation of sluice boxes is allowed by permit. Contact the Rivers Program at or 802-490-6195. Hand panning is unregulated. Hand panning only is allowed on state owned lands. Written permission from property owners is required on private lands.


Additional Resources


river corridor image

VT DEC Watershed Management Division 1 National Life Drive, Main 2  Montpelier, VT  05620-3522  Tele: 802-828-1535   Fax: 802-828-1544


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