Vermont's Town Forests Event Offers a Day of Celebration and Learning

MONTPELIER - On Saturday, September 27th, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation's Urban and Community Forestry Program, in coordination with the UVM Extension, Northeastern States Research Cooperative, Northern Forest Center, Trust for Public Land, UVM Environmental Program, UVM Historic Preservation Program, and Vermont Land Trust, will host Forests for the People: The Return of the Town Forest Summit from 8:30am until 4pm at the Barre Town Middle and Elementary School in Barre, VT.   A full day of celebration, sharing, and networking will be offered including stories about town forests around the state, breakout groups to share experiences and ideas on the many issues communities face when managing town forests, opportunities to meet representatives from organizations available to assist a town in acquiring new, or managing existing, town forests, and an optional field trip to the newly created 355-acre Barre Town Forest.

Vermont currently has over 125 town forests, or approximately 120,000 acres of town owned forestland, that offer communities a myriad of values, from watershed protection, wildlife habitat and forest products to public recreation, outdoor classrooms and neighbor gathering places. Historically, Vermont towns and cities have played important roles in New England's fertile history of municipal forestry, a tradition that embraces diverse forest utilization for community benefit.  Legislative authorization for municipal forests in this state began almost a century ago in 1915, but the history of Vermont's community-owned forests is much older, dating from early periods of settlement when town charters required the designation of public lands for community support. Past utilization of these "woodland patches" was varied from wood products; fuel wood; and commercial timber production; to subsidy for local institutions such as poor farms; reclamation of idle lands; and protection of water supplies.

To celebrate the history and the future of town forests as an important community asset, the event sponsors are bringing back the Vermont Town Forest Summit. The last Summit was held in 2008. This year's event will be held in Barre to highlight the recently created 355-acre Barre Town Forest.  This educational, social and fun event is open to everyone -- whether your community has a town forest or is interested in creating one.   Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. The fee is $15, if received by September 19th. The walk-in registration fee is $20.  The registration fee includes morning refreshments, lunch and workshop materials. To register online, go to uvm.edu/extension/town-forest-summit. 

Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to participate should call (802) 223-2389, ext. 210, by September 15th. For more information about the even contact Kate Forrer at (802) 223-2389, ext.  210, or (866) 860-1382, ext. 210, (Vermont calls only) or by e-mail at Katherine.Forrer@uvm.edu