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Story Synopsis: Beginning 200 years ago, many of Vermont’s rivers were straightened for agriculture, logging and to power turbines. Today one of three river miles in Vermont has been straightened, causing the waters to run deeper and faster – and erode away people’s property and roads. Vermont has experienced three 100-year floods in the past 30 years. Traditionally, the state and property owners have built expensive barriers to keep the rivers in line. Now the state is thinking about taking a new approach to floods: creating zones along the riverbanks where no new construction is allowed to let the rivers flow where they naturally want. Listen to this VPR News story and then use the questions below to discuss the issues it raises.
Use with Grades 6-12, National Curriculum Standards: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2
Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.8
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claims.
Listening Comprehension Questions
1. Why has the state’s previous approach to managing rivers actually led to more erosion and floods?
2. What has been the strategy for preventing flooding from rivers in Vermont?
3. What is the new approach Vermont is taking?
4. What is a “river corridor easement”?
5. Is it fair to ask landowners to give up their land for rivers?
6. Why is slower water better for flooding and erosion?
7. What makes Vermont’s river ways more susceptible to flooding?
8. How does allowing rivers to flow where they want to protect water quality?
Use these questions to get your students thinking at the beginning of class. Have them start writing their answers as they listen to the story, and use these questions to have a rich discussion about the story.
1. In what ways should Vermont prepare for floods?
2. What other ways do you think the state could prevent floods?
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