What do people love about living in the Mad River Valley? How do they use, enjoy, or work to conserve the natural resources of The Valley? In particular, what areas of The Valley are important for recreation, scenic, wildlife or other natural resource values? 

The Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department are hosting a forum on Monday, April 7, at the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield from 7 to 9 p.m. to explain the Forests, Wildlife, Communities Project and collect information from Valley residents and interested parties on the natural resource priorities of the community.

All are invited to attend! Hunters, anglers, loggers, skiers, birders, real estate agents, recreation groups, conservation organizations, planners, members of conservation commissions, whoever uses, enjoys and works to conserve the natural resources of the Mad River Valley. Participants will be asked to identify activities, values and areas that are important to conservation efforts in The Valley.  

The Forests, Wildlife, Communities (FWC) Project is an effort to share information and strategies for forestland and wildlife conservation. The FWC Project is a coordinated effort of the Mad River Planning District, Audubon Vermont, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Coverts: Woodlands for Wildlife, Northern Forest Alliance, and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department to foster a coordinated approach to wildlife and forestland conservation in the Mad River Valley.  The project is supported through a grant from the Wildlife Action Opportunity Fund of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is funded through the Doris Duke Charitable Trust to further the goals of Vermont's Wildlife Action Plan.

Complementing other initiatives already underway in The Valley, information that is collected at the forum will help shape community-supported outreach opportunities and strategies for the conservation of forests and wildlife habitat for diverse uses in the Mad River Valley. A goal for the FWC project is to work with interested parties to coordinate and share conservation planning strategies, rather than duplicate ongoing efforts. A separate goal is to help support local efforts by providing data and information that is available at the state level that could benefit local conservation planning efforts.   

After the forum meeting, a steering committee with local representatives will be formed to help oversee the project. The forum will allow the public to provide input and learn about opportunities for upcoming workshops and habitat assessments, community mapping and conservation planning sessions, and town forest celebrations to help promote the conservation of forest habitat in The Valley.