Last month, conservation commission members from Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston met to share their successes and challenges and also to identify future areas for collaboration.
The Warren Conservation Commission hosted the meeting, which was held at Lareau Farm in in Waitsfield on April 6, 2023. Members of the three commissions have met as a group regularly and have begun to work collectively on issues, including knotweed management and recreation standards.
Participants identified multiple areas for future collaboration between the conservation commissions. Community education by way of the Biodiversity Forum was mentioned, featuring Ethan Tapper in September. Exploring glyphosate and neonicotinoids more deeply and considering whether agriculture systems can become part of the solution, not part of the problem. Commissioners asked if it was possible to become an organic valley and whether it’s possible to grow local food affordably that way.
Another area of future collaboration was building relationships with planning commissions and development review boards and acknowledging development pressure with an eye to facilitating housing while protecting natural resources.
Commissioners also discussed the work of some of their members working on recreation and conservation visioning as part of the large grant that the Mad River Valley Recreation District and its partners received.
It is a $408,000 Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative grant that will create a recreation hub connecting Irasville and Waitsfield to The Valley’s trail networks in the Howe Block of the Camel’s Hump State Forest and beyond. That will happen via a bridge over the Mill Brook connecting the downtown area to public trails.
Part of that work is taking a Valley-wide look at balancing ecological integrity and recreation, working towards a gold standard. There are two steering committees working on this, one working on recreation and trails and the other working on trails and ecological integrity. Both groups will hold a public forum on June 15 with details to be forthcoming. Additionally, online surveys are coming. Among the two groups’ considerations are articulating a vision in words and maps and looking at the cumulative impact across landscape. They are asking what are the best practices for siting recreation with ecological values considered? The recreation group is investigating how their trail networks interact. Some commissioners pointed out that it could be argued that the human footprint may already be too big and that additional recreation siting may be problematic.
Present were Bruno Grimaldi, Curt Lindburg, Phil Huffman, Bob Cook, and Ted Joslin from the Warren Conservation Commission; Jito Coleman, Kate Wanner, Jonathan Clough and host George Schenk from the Warren Conservation Commission; as well as Amy Dalton, Corrie Miller and Andrea Henderson from the Fayston Conservation Commission. Liza Walker, who is the Vermont Land Trust program manager in The Valley, was also present.