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Restoration project to reduce climate impacts showing results in Vermont 

May 4, 2022

Forester marks trees while explaining his process to observing group.
Consulting forester Charlie Hancock marks trees for an upcoming management procedure designed to enhance forest resilience during a Woodlots program, describing to the group the considerations that go into his process. Photo courtesy Sandra Crocker/Cold Hollow to Canada.

This story is part of a series and highlights one of the 14 common themes identified in the 2020 regional state forest action plan summary report. The theme for April 2022 is: Sustainable Forest Management of Private Lands.

VERMONT—Vermont is home to over 4.5 million acres of forest, making up 73% of its land area. In the coming decades, the state’s climate is projected to change significantly, impacting these forests.

A recently completed Eastern Region State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration project in Vermont to improve private forestland resilience to climate change has shown some positive outcomes. The project, “Creating Climate Resilient Forest Landscapes for People Songbirds and Wildlife,” started in 2017 and ended in late 2021.

Forester talks to local resident.
Franklin County forester Nancy Patch offers technical assistance to Woodlots participant Jeff Goyne. Photo courtesy Jessica Boone/Cold Hollow to Canada.

Roughly 80% of the forestland in Vermont is privately owned. County foresters often work with these landowners to advise them on their forest management objectives. In turn, private forest landowners will be essential in building resilience to mitigate the impacts of climate change there.

Recent reports indicate that protecting large, connected tracts of forestland will become increasingly important to develop climate resilience in northern Vermont. Forests with different age classes and a diverse mix of species tend to be more resilient to climate change. This landscape scale strategy was a relatively new approach to managing forestlands.

As forest managers seek to steward forests with a changing climate in mind, there are also opportunities to incorporate the needs of songbirds and other wildlife. One of many positive impacts of this forest management approach is that they can find compatible places where habitat types can be nurtured.

The project took place in northwestern Vermont, adjacent to the Canadian border in a location identified by the Two Countries, One Forest partnership as particularly important to maintain as contiguous forest as the climate changes.

Landowner shows her neighbors the forest management work she's done on her property.
Landowner Jessica Boone shares with her neighbors the goals and process of the climate-based forest management she has done on her land. Photo courtesy Liza Morse/Cold Hollow to Canada.

The LSR grant recipient Cold Hollow to Canada is a Vermont-based conservation partnership focused on keeping forestlands intact. CHC brings together resources from state, regional and federal organizations to benefit landowners and communities. CHC organizers worked with forest landowners to develop forest management plans that complemented each other and benefited wildlife and songbirds. The organizers collaborated with Audubon Vermont in a program to improve private forestlands using Forestry for the Birds practices.

In conjunction with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, Cold Hollow to Canada also provided analyses of landowners’ forest management plans using an Adaptation Workbook created by Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science.

The USDA Forest Service provided $49,265 in LSR funding for the project. Eastern Region Forest Stewardship program manager Caroline Kuebler said the project was highly successful.

Project accomplishments by the numbers:

  • 300 landowners received pamphlets about bird resiliency and climate habitat
  • 25 forest landowner management plans were developed
  • 16 forest demonstration areas were developed for landowner use
  • 30 working forestland parcels were maintained either through conservation easements or current use enrollment
  • 9,000 acres of forestland was put in stewardship of priority forest blocks or wildlife corridors