The Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program (VT UCF) recently bestowed Tree Steward Awards on several Vermonters for their commitment to protecting and preserving their community's forests and trees including Waitsfield and Waterbury Center projects.
The Vermont Arbor Day award is dedicated to individuals who have made a difference in their community's urban and community forest. This year one recipient was Jane Brown, Waterbury Center. She was the first landscape architect hired by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, a position she held for 23 years. She was involved in several transportation corridor renovation projects, including Main Street in Waterbury and Route 7 in South Burlington and Brandon. Brown has served on the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council since 1999 and contributed to the VT UCF's Resilient Right-of-Ways project (2015-2020) and the development of the Vermont Green Streets Guide. She also is a Waterbury Tree Committee member.
The volunteer group award is presented to an organization or group that has demonstrated a strong commitment to introducing or sustaining an urban and community forestry project. One of the two winners this year was the Austin Parcel Flood Plain Forest Restoration Collaboration. Begun in 2018, it is a partnership between the Waitsfield Conservation Commission and the Friends of the Mad River, the Intervale Conservation Nursery, the Mad River Path Association and the Vermont Master Naturalist Program. The goal of this multi-year effort is to restore an important flood plain along the Mad River in Waitsfield through removal and management of invasive species, enhancement by planting native species and community engagement in flood plain forest restoration.
The five-acre Austin Parcel, town land along the Mad River in Waitsfield, has been a model for invasive species removal, native enhancement plantings and community engagement in flood plain forest restoration. These efforts have been supported and administered by the Waitsfield Conservation Commission and its partners. “What makes this collaborative effort unique is the sustained, multi-year effort to restore this important flood plain and the breadth of expertise brought by the parties: flood plain restoration, native species and planting techniques, invasive species management and community connections,” conservation commissioners wrote in the application for this award. When the project began this parcel was overrun with invasive species: Japanese knotweed, honeysuckle and buckthorn. Removal and regular cutting has had a significant impact and opened up significant areas for planting of native trees and shrubs. Since 2018, 524 trees and shrubs, representing 24 different species, have been planted and stewarded. Plans are in place to continue the restoration of the Austin Parcel in 2021 with the same group of committed partners.