Experts: Post-Irene river repairs harmful in Vt.

By the Associated Press | November 15, 2011 | 4:10 PM EST

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — In the days and weeks following Tropical Storm Irene's flooding, Vermont became what one lawmaker called a "lawless state" concerning its rivers, with crews digging gravel from stream beds and piling boulders on river banks to strengthen them.

Environmentalists and some state officials say the result is serious environmental damage, especially to fish habitats, as well as a possible worsening of future floods.

Vermont lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday that efforts to put rivers back in the courses they ran before the Aug. 28 storm may have done more harm than good in some instances.

In addition to hurting fish habitats with the digging, river experts say efforts to strengthen river banks can increase the speed at which the river flows, which can make future floods more damaging.