Forest Management at the Hinesburg Town Forest: Partnership and Participation
Forest Management Project Engages Hundreds
Hinesburg, VT – After two winters of work, an innovative forest management project at the Hinesburg Town Forest (HTF) has been completed. This project not only promoted forest health and the local economy, but has also provided hundreds of Vermonters with opportunities to learn about forests, responsible forest management and Vermont’s working landscape. The work was spearheaded by the Hinesburg Town Forest Committee, in partnership with the Chittenden County Forester and with the cooperation and support of the broader Hinesburg community.
From a local perspective, this project has encouraged the development of a healthy, diverse, resilient forest with great wildlife habitat, striving to create conditions which will benefit the overall health and ecology of the HTF while enriching the surrounding landscape.
At the same time, the work supported local communities, economies and Vermont’s working landscape by generating local, renewable resources (wood) and supporting the local industries that use them. The job employed a logger from Hinesburg and a trucker from the adjacent town of Huntington. Firewood from the project was processed and sold locally, and the softwood sawtimber harvested from the property stayed in the county, including a good deal of it ending up at Clifford Lumber in Hinesburg.
From a broader perspective, project leaders went to great lengths to be open, transparent and inclusive, and to engage as many people as possible. By providing many opportunities for the public to participate and ask questions, it aspired to improve the health of forests and the quality of forest management everywhere by supporting an increased understanding of what high-quality forest management looks like and the many benefits it brings.
Over the course of two years, the project hosted 19 events attended by over 500 people. These included a wide variety of educational opportunities with experts in different subject areas, from ecological forest management to wildlife habitat, balancing forest management and recreation, managing forests in light of the Emerald Ash Borer, managing for forest birds, and forest carbon. Additional outreach opportunities included a “Hinesburg Town Forest History Night” and a storytelling night with Bill Torrey, the logger who helped manage the HTF for over 30 years. The harvest has hosted numerous classes from UVM, Champlain College and CCV, and was showcased during the New England Society of American Foresters annual conference and as part of the Governor’s Chittenden County “Capitol for a Day” event. It was featured on UVM Extension’s “Across the Fence” television program, WCAX news and in the Vermont Woodlands Association Annual Newsletter. The project partnered with Vermont Woodlands Association, Vermont Coverts, Audubon Vermont, Woods, Wildlife and Warblers, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program and the Vermont Land Trust, in addition to partners like City Market Coop and the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, Fellowship of the Wheel mountain bike club, and Vermont Pride Center.
The most exciting part of this project is yet to come; the biggest partner in any forest management is the forest itself, which will respond with a flush of vibrant, abundant regeneration of new trees and enhanced growth of existing trees. Trees will expand their crowns, forest gaps will fill with a diverse mix of tree, shrubs and plants, and new species of animals and birds will begin to use these areas to forage, hide, hunt and nest. The Hinesburg Town Forest Committee and the Chittenden County Forester will continue to observe and monitor the harvest area, using it to demonstrate the long-term benefits of forest management.
The HTF is an 864.5-acre forested parcel owned by the Town of Hinesburg. HTF is one of Vermont’s oldest and most storied municipal forests, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The HTF is a multi-use public resource, with a long and rich history of forest management, demonstration, education, hunting, mountain biking, and other recreation coexisting on the property.
The current Management Plan for the HTF can be found on the Hinesburg Town Forest Committee’s page of the Town of Hinesburg’s website.