The second Mad River Valley Conservation and Recreation Visioning (CRV) Community Forum takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29, at the Lareau Farm Pavilion in Waitsfield. This is an opportunity for community members to learn more about the CRV project and provide input for the steering committee.





The event starts with a potluck from 5 to 6 p.m. with a cash bar. Bring a dish to share, a plate and utensils. During the potluck there will be a Q & A table staffed by the CRV steering committee members to answer questions about the project, process, and pre-meeting materials that will be circulated over the next two weeks.

The structured part of the meeting will run from 6 to 8 p.m.  The first part will include an update on CRV and a presentation by Arrowwood Environmental, Huntington, VT, that was hired last fall to compile ecological and recreational information as part of CRV’s Phase 1. Arrowwood has assembled a preliminary series of data layers (map format), an online tool to view them individually or in different combinations, informational summaries, and a list of key ecological features present in the watershed (see below).

“Arrowwood has done great work gathering an extensive amount of important ecological and recreational data and helping make it accessible through their online tool. And their distillation of key ecological features is a helpful reference as we work to balance a healthy, vibrant environment and diverse outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Phil Huffman, a member of the Waitsfield Conservation Commission and CRV co-chair. “We’re excited for them to share this important body of work with the MRV community.”

A draft written summary of current conditions related to ecological attributes and recreational resources in the MRV will also be shared. The draft current conditions document describes ecological features, trails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities (including information provided by the local organizations participating on the steering committee and other pertinent data), and acts as a snapshot in time about what currently exists. CRV participants will use the current conditions document as they begin Phase 2 of this work: articulating a shared vision for the future and map(s) that help convey that vision spatially.




Instead of creating a process from scratch, CRV is using an approach developed by federal land managers called the Visitor Use Management Planning process (VUMP). VUMP is used throughout the country and it is being adapted to local needs. It is based on stating current conditions, developing future desired conditions, then identifying management techniques to achieve the desired conditions. For example:

Current condition: MRV trail system lacks adequate beginner mountain bike trails

Desired condition: MRV trail system includes a mix of trails at all levels of difficulty.

Management techniques: 1) Review current trails to see if any could be modified to make them easier. 2) When planning, siting, and building new mountain bike trails, look for opportunities to provide new beginner level trails in ecologically appropriate locations.

The second half of the meeting will focus on small breakout groups to get input and feedback from community members on:

1. the draft current conditions document.

2. Arrowwood Environmental’s list of key ecological features present in The Valley (see below).

3. Desired future conditions for ecological integrity and recreational opportunities in The Valley.

During the summer the steering committee will meet frequently to draft a summary of desired future conditions, using suggestions from the May 29 Community Forum. The steering committee members will also get input from their individual organizations. Once the draft desired future conditions document is in good shape, the group will tackle management techniques for achieving them. A third community forum is tentatively scheduled for late summer, and a fourth is being considered, to get input on these key pieces. Updates will be provided often in The Valley Reporter, Front Porch Forum and links shared on

Key Ecological Features

Brief descriptions of key ecological features prevalent in the MRV Watershed.

Vernal Pool Buffers

Vernal pools are small depressions in forests that fill with water in the spring and fall. They provide breeding habitat for many salamanders, frogs, and other amphibians. A 100-foot buffer around vernal pools helps to protect traveling amphibians, as well as the hydrology and habitat quality of their breeding pools.

Flood plain Forests

Flood plain forest natural communities along rivers and streams. Most of these forests have been converted for agriculture, and those that remain provide important habitat and flood mitigation functions.

RTE Plants

Rare, Threatened, and Endangered (RTE) plant species. Examples in the MRV include Large Roundleaf Orchid, Auricled Twayblade, and American Ginseng.

Cliffs and Ledges

Cliffs and ledges can be significant habitat features for rare plants, nesting birds, and denning animals.

River Corridor

The width of the meander belt of a river and an additional 50-foot buffer to allow for a stable wooded bank. Not mapped for small streams.

Bat Hibernacula

Significant locations for bat winter hibernation. These caves and abandoned mines also provide habitat for specialized invertebrates and other poorly understood organisms.

Mast Stands

Stands of nut-producing trees (usually beech) that show evidence of use by bears.

Bear Wetlands

Early spring green up areas that provide an important food source for bears after leaving their winter dens.

Remote Wetlands Over 1 Acre

Wetland complexes greater than 1 acre and more than 100m from roads and known trails.

Bicknell's Thrush Habitat

High elevation conifer dominated forests. Bicknell’s Thrush is classified as a High Priority Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Vermont and is prevalent in the MRV watershed.

Montane Forest Communities

All Montane Spruce-Fir Forest and Montane Yellow Birch-Red Spruce Forest. Montane forests tend to have steeper slopes and slower growth rates than lower elevation forests, and so are more sensitive to disturbance. Their ability to shift in response to climate change is also geographically limited.

Wilderness –

Intact Forest Over 1000 Acres

Areas of forest greater than 1,000 acres that are not impacted by known roads, trails, or development, which can have a negative effect on wildlife. For many species this includes increased stress, decreased breeding success, permanent displacement or local extirpation, and a restricted ability to find mates or shift in response to climatic changes.

Wildlife Corridors

Places of connected suitable habitat that facilitate wildlife movement between larger habitat features.


At the end of the VOREC grant process, December 2024, a community-wide agreement will have been drafted. That agreement will be the foundation for the next chapter of work that goes well beyond 2024. CRV is a good faith agreement between recreation and conservation groups and the community at large to set priorities for the future. It is anticipated that the work of CRV will continue for many years under the leadership of a group yet to be identified, either existing or new.

For more information, pre-meeting materials, and to sign up for the CRV email list, contact community project manager, Emily Friedman, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..