Flood Risk Management
Townshend Lake is located on the West River, a tributary to the Connecticut River, as part of a network of flood control projects in the Upper Connecticut River Basin. Construction began in 1958 and was completed in 1961 at a cost of $7.5 million dollars.
The reservoir can store up to 11 billion gallons of floodwater. During the heavy rains of April 1987, the flood storage area upstream of the dam was filled to capacity and excess water had to be discharged over the spillway. Over the years, many lives and millions of dollars in damages have been saved. Coordination, timing, and careful decision making based on historical data and forecasting are the key elements to successful flood control operations.
The Reservoir Regulation Team (RRT), located at the Corps' New England District Headquarters in Concord, MA, is the "nerve center" for all Corps-operated dams in New England. Using radio and satellite communications, RRT constantly monitors river levels and weather conditions and directs the operation of the dams during high flows. For information on river flows, dam operations, snow depths, recreational water releases and more visit the Reservoir Regulation Team home page.
Nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains, Townshend Lake offers lots of outdoor recreation fun. From the third Saturday in May through the Sunday after Labor Day in September, Townshend Lake Recreation Area is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Families come to enjoy the extensive shaded picnic areas overlooking the swimming and play areas. Picnic tables, grills, horseshoe pits, volleyball set-ups, grassy play areas, and two modern restrooms are provided for the enjoyment of our visitors. Townshend Lake has a "carry in- carry out" trash policy. Family reunions and special get-togethers can be enjoyed here at any of the three convenient picnic shelters with large grills. Shelter reservations are required and can be made online at Recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. Please note that no live bands are permitted. Pets are not allowed inside the recreation area (they are allowed at the entrance hill area and the Fish Trap area below the dam).
Below the picnic area, the long, sandy beach is great for sunbathing, and the swimming area is shallow enough for children yet deep enough for those wanting to swim laps. During the summer, Park Rangers are available to help visitors and to answer questions. During the winter, visitors can enjoy cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
A boat ramp is available for those wishing to launch their watercraft (10 horsepower limit) and State laws regarding life jackets must be followed. Hunting and fishing are allowed throughout the reservoir in accordance with Federal and Vermont Fish and Wildlife laws and regulations.
Reservations and Fees
Nothing says summer like a picnic. At Townshend Lake, picnickers can dine in shady woods or take advantage of our covered picnic shelters. Our shelters can be reserved, for a fee, for large gatherings such as family reunions or weddings. Grills are provided at the shelters, with playground equipment, horseshoe pits, and restrooms nearby.
- Large Shelter ("Stratton" -- accommodates roughly 100 adults) - $85.00
- Small Shelter ("Davis" -- accommodates roughly 60 adults) - $65.00
- Small Shelter ("Burrington" -- accommodates roughly 60 adults) - $65.00
- The reservation fee includes electricity.
- Shelters are rented from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Make reservations online at Recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777.
Special Event Fees:
These fees vary, depending on the event. Please call the Park Manager for more information at (802) 874-4881.
Know Before You Go
- Pets are not allowed anywhere inside the recreation area.
- Live Bands are not permitted.
- Carry-in-carry out” trash policy.
We would like to invite you to our offering of educational and recreational programs at Townshend Lake. These family-oriented activities include trail walks, geocaching demonstrations, water safety demonstrations, a Junior Ranger session, volunteer trail work days, and more. All programs are open to the public and are free. Please dress appropriately; no pets please. All ages are welcome however we do ask adults to accompany their children.
Ever wish a ranger would come to your school or organization and present a program of your choosing? Townshend Lake Rangers have done off-site programs on a variety of topics. The park staff can conduct group programs on or off- site year round upon request and there is no charge for these programs.
The Corps understands that there's more than one use for the land we manage. We also understand that humans are not the only ones that use this land, other residents include many vertebrates (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish) and invertebrates (insects, spiders, crayfish, and other creatures). Corps biologists and rangers work closely with state and federal agencies to insure healthy fish and wildlife populations.
Corps personnel manage the land (1,010 acres) at Townshend Lake to maintain a diversity of fish and wildlife habitats. Many programs are used at Townshend Lake to benefit the native wildlife species. The installation of bird boxes has created nesting sites for tree swallows, black-capped chickadees, house wrens, wood ducks, and bluebirds. Forest stands are managed to maximize benefits to both trees and animals. The management practices of brush hogging and prescribed burning are used to maintain important open field habitats. Keep an eye peeled skyward for a sighting of a soaring bald eagle or osprey. Various fish, amphibians, reptiles, and other creatures also live here.
The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife boosts the cold-water fishery by stocking the West River and its tributaries with brown, rainbow, and brook trout. Smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and dace may also be caught in the reservoir.