Northern Vermont University is now part of Vermont State University! Please visit for accurate information.

Pocket Wetland Restoration Underway on Johnson Campus

Storm water runoff from roads and steep hillsides often leads to flooding, erosion, and water quality issues downstream. In response, Professor Lisa Zinn’s Water Resources class looked for ways that runoff from the Johnson campus could be better managed, picking a pocket wetland restoration project to begin this fall.

“This project is a first step in making the campus grounds more sustainable,” Zinn said. “With climate change, the storm events are getting more frequent in Vermont, and all of the surface water running off lawns and roads is running into streams and rivers.”

This wetland area is downhill from the Campus Apartments, but the area doesn’t hold water well as regular mowing has eliminated all but grass from the site and compacted soil doesn’t allow wetland plants to grow in. The class put together a restoration plan and set out to receive approval from the NVU Physical Plant staff to alter this site. Once approval was received, the students dug in — literally!

The class dug up the sod and planted the area in eleven native species, including cardinal flower, blue flag iris, blue lobelia, boneset, and a variety of rushes. As the plants take hold, they will help provide the environment for other native wetland species to naturally populate that area.

The project will be ongoing, with signage created by the students going up in the spring and regular monitoring of the site for invasive plant species part of the effort to give this wetland the chance to establish and thrive.

“The effort will help to increase biodiversity and habitat for other species on campus, too,” Zinn said. “We can each have an impact by intentionally creating habitats that increase biodiversity. This is a visible spot on campus, and through the project we will all be able to see that it can a beautiful spot, too.”