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Fluvial Matters, LLC

Mike Kline

River Ecologist/Geomorphologist in Vermont

Consulting to restore and protect rivers and their floodplains

Contact Information:

Artwork by Gretchen Alexander

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Scientific, Policy, and Technical  Consulting Services

  • Applying the sciences of fluvial geomorphology and river ecology to help agencies and non-profits develop their technical and community engagement programs;

  • Strategic planning, including the inter-agency coordination of policies and practices and the advancement of proposals for nature-based restoration and protection;

  • Providing expert written commentary and oral testimony to policy boards, agencies, and legislative committees on river and floodplain management;

  • Providing technical and programmatic review and comment on river and floodplain studies, reports, research publications, and project designs; and

  • Conducting field assessments, troubleshooting, and reporting on stream geomorphic and ecological conditions.


Previous Work

After 30 years of restoring and protecting rivers as part of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, I am working on fluvial matters outside of state government.  I consult on the science, programs applying the science, and the policies and practices that will afford us the societal benefits of naturally functioning rivers and floodplains. 


The following are examples of my previous work:


  • Following the floods of 2011, I worked to help make Vermont a more flood resilient state, focusing on the synergy between state, regional, and federal agencies and their academic and non-profit partners.  My work technically supported the improved design of public infrastructure, emergency instream practices, and land use planning and regulation to help Vermont communities protect their flood attenuation assets and utilize sustainable hazard mitigation and flood recovery practices.


  • I worked to bring together the once disparate State programs of river management, flow protection, and floodplain management and integrated them into a Rivers Program dedicated to the science of landscape-scale, fluvial processes, whereby technical staff work to align outcomes and collaborate on strategies to achieve and maintain river and floodplain connectivity.


  • I very much enjoy going to campus and sparking graduate-level research and undergraduate studies at the University of Vermont and as an Affiliate of the Gund Institute for Environment (centered at UVM), the results of which have been directly applied in state program development.


  • I collaborated with the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife to create a Transportation Resiliency Program that will address river-related vulnerabilities and install flood-resilient and fish-friendly stream crossings.


  • I collaborated with scientists and resource managers nationally to assist EPA in the establishment of a Healthy Watersheds Initiative, including the development and publication of assessment and protection methodologies.


  • I have developed a river corridor and floodplain protection program, including state land use regulations and a first-in-the-nation state program to purchase river channel management rights within conservation easements in partnership with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, and statewide land conservation organizations. 


  • I have developed assessment and mapping protocols to produce geomorphic-based, fluvial erosion area (river corridor) maps in support of municipal hazard mitigation planning and land use regulation. I have assisted the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Indiana, Colorado, and now Wisconsin on the development of similar erosion hazard programs.


  • I have led inter-agency teams to incorporate fluvial geomorphic science into state and federal basin planning, watershed restoration projects, agricultural programs, and stormwater initiatives aimed at cleaning up phosphorus and sediment discharges in the Lake Champlain Basin. 


  • I led a team of scientists in the development of the Vermont Stream Geomorphic and Reach Habitat Assessment Protocols and authored a river corridor planning process to apply the data in state and federal watershed management programs. Vermont’s Assessment Program has been recognized as a national model by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and FEMA. I am currently engaged in the further evolution of this program through Vermont’s Functioning Floodplains Initiative.


  • I am frequently invited to speak at universities, regional workshops, and national conferences in recognition of my work to define fluvial erosion as a predominant hazard type in mountainous states, the public benefits of managing rivers and floodplains toward dynamic equilibrium conditions, and the importance of river corridor protection and restoration as river management tools. 


Selected Publications

Christin, Z., Kline, M. 2017. Why we continue to develop floodplains: Examining the disincentives for conservation in federal policy. White Paper. Earth Economics. Tacoma, WA.


Kline, M. 2017. Giving Our Rivers Room to Move: A New Strategy and Contribution to Protecting Vermont’s Communities and Ensuring Clean Water. Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (Vol.17. Issue 4), Vermont Law School.


Kline, M., R. Barr, S. Beik, T. Walker, R. Pfeiffer, T. Stevens, J. Fuller and M. McIntosh. 2016. White Paper on Riverine Erosion Hazards. Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM).


Schiff, R., E. Fitzgerald, J. MacBroom, M. Kline, and S. Jaquith, 2014.  Vermont Standard River Management Principles and Practices (Vermont SRMPP):  Guidance for Managing Vermont's Rivers Based on Channel and Floodplain Function.  Prepared by Milone & MacBroom, Inc. and Fitzgerald Environmental Associates, LLC for and in collaboration with Vermont Rivers Program, Montpelier, Vermont


Mathon, B, Rizzo, D, Kline, M, Alexander, G, Fiske, S, Langdon, R, and Stevens, L. 2013. Assessing Linkages in Stream Habitat, Geomorphic Condition, and Biological Integrity Using a Generalized Regression Neural Network. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 49(2):415-430. DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12030


Fitzgerald, E.P., Bowden, W.B., Parker, S.P., and Kline, M.L., 2012. Urban impacts on streams are scale-dependent with non-linear influences on their physical and biotic recovery in Vermont, U.S.A Journal of the American Water Resources Association(JAWRA) 1-19. DOI:10.1111/j.1752-1688.2012.00639.x


Kline, Michael and Barry Cahoon, 2010.  Protecting River Corridors in Vermont.  Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 1-10. DOI:10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00417.x


Kline, M., “Vermont ANR Guide to River Corridor Planning," Vermont DEC, Waterbury, Vermont, 2010.


Besaw, L., D. Rizzo, M. Kline, K. Underwood, J. Doris, L. Morrissey, and K. Pelletier. 2009. Stream classification using hierarchical artificial neural networks: A fluvial hazard management tool. J. Hydrology, doi:10.1016/ j.jhydrol.2009.04.007


Kline, M., C. Alexander, S. Jaquith, S. Pomeroy, and G. Springston, “Vermont ANR Stream Geomorphic Assessment Protocol Handbooks,” (peer reviewed), Vermont ANR, Waterbury, Vermont, 2009.


Schiff, R., M. Kline, and J. Clark.  “The Reach Habitat Assessment Protocol.”  Prepared by Milone and MacBroom, Inc. for the Vermont ANR, Waterbury, VT, 2008.


Caroline, H., J. Erickson, T. Noordewier, A. Sheldon, M. Kline. 2006. Collaborative environmental planning in river management: An application of multi-criteria decision analysis in the White River Watershed in Vermont. Journal of Environmental Management 84 (2007) 534–546.