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Shipyard Road Boat Launch

FNLC has received funding through the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, the Missisquoi Bay VT DEC Clean Water Service Provider, to develop a final engineering design for the Shipyard Road Boat Launch in Highgate Springs.

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The site offers a boat launch and picnic area with views of Missisquoi Bay for public visitors. This area was identified in 2022 by Watershed Consulting Associates, LLC for FNLC’s Swanton and Highgate Stormwater and Shoreline Erosion Assessment. The public visibility of this location, its direct connection to the shore, known drainage issues, and a failing sea wall all contributed to this site being selected for concept design. The site features a concrete seawall along the lakeshore, which is cracking and deteriorated. Additionally, runoff flowing down Shipyard Road is not being adequately controlled.


The preliminary concept design proposes to replace the failing sea wall with encapsulated soil lifts. Two small rain gardens near the entrance to the boat ramp are proposed to treat stormwater runoff from the parking area as well. In addition to the structural practices, a swale and culvert on the southern side of Shipyard Road across from the beach are proposed to properly manage this runoff and direct it to the stream rather than over the road. The encapsulated soil lifts proposed in this design are a bioengineered practice which would convert the existing “grey” stabilization practice to a living shoreline. Hardened stabilization practices, such as the concrete seawall present at the boat launch, do not dissipate wind-driven wave energy. Rather, that energy is directed sideways and down, leading to downshore erosion and lakebed scouring. Additional downsides to grey stabilization include fragmentation of the land-water interface, reduction of habitat complexity, and proliferation of aquatic invasives. Furthermore, living shorelines generally require little maintenance once established.


Over time, the cost of managing a bioengineered shoreline is significantly less than the cost of a concrete seawall failure. 

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