Vermont Town Forest Recreation Planning

Vermont Town Forest Recreation Planning

FPR Partners with Communities Across Vermont to Balance Recreation and Healthy Town Forests

Vermont has a long and proud tradition of town-owned and managed forests. Over 168 municipalities in Vermont own over 67,000 acres for forestland. These forests are more than just scenic landmarks. They also promote community vitality and provide priceless public benefits like watershed protection, wildlife habitat, forest products, outdoor classrooms, and neighborhood gathering places. One major benefit of town forests, outdoor forest-based recreation, offers both great opportunities and growing challenges. Increased pressure from multiple recreation groups accentuates the need for planning assistance to balance the growing recreation interests with the health of the forest. In response, the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program and partners have received a grant from the US Forest Service to provide recreation planning assistance to ten diverse communities in Vermont.

FPR’s Urban & Community Forestry Program has begun work with SE Group, a consulting firm that specializes in community planning, to engage the ten selected communities in a robust planning process to develop action-based town forest recreation plans. The innovative planning model includes public visioning sessions, needs assessments, facilitated walks in the forests, and a plan that provides actionable strategies to assist communities in taking the next steps. Following community visits and public visioning workshops that took place in January at each of the ten communities throughout Vermont, we are now developing comprehensive, action-oriented town forest stewardship and recreation plans for each community. Based on the outcomes of these diverse forests and communities, FPR will release a town forest recreation planning toolkit to support sustainable, forest-based recreation in town forests statewide.

The ten towns the Vermont UCF and SE Group are partnering with to develop town forest recreation plans are:

• Bradford
• Hardwick
• Hartford
• Hinesburg
• Huntington
• Marshfield
• Middlebury
• Richmond
• Weathersfield
• Woodbury

Following plan drafting, public input, and finalization with local steering committees, the final plans will be presented to each community and an implementation summit will be held this fall.

Visit the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program Website to learn more and read each community’s story!