Author Archives: Jens Hilke

AVCC Gathers ‘Conservation Success Stories’

MONTPELIER, Vt. – In an era of forest fragmentation, declining species, and rising global temperatures, it can be difficult to remain hopeful about the future of the environment.  But the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions (AVCC) is looking to show that Vermont’s grassroots conservation efforts are great examples of conservation successes.

The association is compiling Conservation Success Stories on their website, vtconservation.com, in an effort to demonstrate what works in conservation.  The stories include everything from streambank restoration projects to education programs that connect kids with nature.

Jens Hilke, a conservation planning biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department serves on AVCC’s board.  According to Hilke, the board is hoping these success stories will serve as promising examples for others to follow.

“Amazing conservation work is happening at the local level in Vermont,” said Hilke.  “We’re asking local conservation groups to share your stories to build on this work and serve as a resource for other groups working on similar issues.  We want to know who you partnered with, what your challenges were, and what was critical to your success.”

One of the nearly 100 success stories currently on the website is the conservation of Zack Woods Pond and the surrounding 400 acres in Hyde Park, Vt.  Local residents had grown increasingly concerned about rampant trash dumping, out of control fires, and overused campsites on the land.  They formed Friends of Zack Woods and partnered with several statewide conservation organizations to work towards solving these issues.  In 2013, the state of Vermont accepted the property into the Green River Reservoir State Park, ensuring that these lands will remain forever conserved.

Karen Freeman is the conservation director for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and also serves on the board of the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions.  According to Freeman, “Vermont’s local conservation commissions are defined by their willingness to work together and learn from each other.  These partnerships continue to strengthen the state’s conservation legacy, ensuring that Vermont’s wild places, outdoor recreational resources and working landscape will remain healthy and available for future generations.”

Vermont conservation groups looking to get information about past successes, or to share their stories with others, can access the Library of Conservation Success Stories HERE.

AVCC Annual Meeting Set for November 7 at Vermont Technical College

This year, the Association of Vermont Conservation Commission’s annual “conservation Summit” is being held in cooperation with the Town Forest Partnership to celebrate 100 years of town forests in VT. The day-long conference will feature several concurrent sessions offering trainings and presentations across four themes (Story Telling, Managing the Resource, Managing the People, Hot Topics), as well as a keynote address by Peter Forbes, an award ceremony for AVCC & Town Forest Heroes, and an ice cream social. It will be held at Vermont Technical College in Randolph on Saturday,  November 7th from 8:30-4pm.

AVCC Awards 2015 Tiny Grants to Five Conservation Commissions

A hiking trail connecting neighborhoods, workshops with conservation experts, natural area guided walks, new trail signs, and a trail map and guide, all will receive financial support thanks to grants from the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions.

Grants were awarded to conservation commissions for these projects in the following towns: Brattleboro, Cambridge, Cornwall, Guildford and Northfield. Groups will receive between $400 and $500 depending on the project, from the AVCC Tiny Grant program.

“We are proud to be able to help advance, in a small way, conservation projects identified and carried out by local conservation commissions,” said Jake Brown, chair of AVCC. “Supporting this sort of work is what AVCC is all about.”

AVCC has offered the Tiny Grant program for several years and plans to continue to do so in the coming years. Conservation commissions (or groups working to become conservation commissions) who are members of AVCC are eligible.

For nearly two decades, the non-profit AVCC has supported the growth and success of local conservation commissions, acting as a clearinghouse for information for local conservation commissions, publishing a newsletter, maintaining an on-line listerve, and holding an annual meeting.

Conservation Commissions are non-regulatory bodies designed to advise planning commissions and select boards on natural resources issues. Often these commissions get involved in natural resource inventories and land management of town-owned lands as well as many other types of projects.

Grant Details

Brattleboro: The Conservation Commission will use the grant to assure the proper construction of a steep section of a new foot trail connecting neighborhoods in West Brattleboro. Contact: Sue Fillion, 802-251-8112

Cambridge: The Commission will use the money to help support their “Experts in the Field” series that runs this summer and fall. Talks, which will take place in various locations around town, will cover topics like mushrooms and fungi, pollinators, fly tying and fly fishing, wetlands, and permaculture, to name a few. Contact: Justin Marsh, 802-730-2383.

Cornwall: The grant will go to sponsor a series of walks during which experts will discuss sites in town identified in a recent natural resources inventory. Contact: Mary Dodge, 802-462-2899

Guildford: Funds will enable the creation of an interpretive guide and trail markers keyed to the guide for a trail system in a 175-acre forest near the town center. Contact: Linda Lembke, 802-254-4813.

Northfield: The funds will support the creation and installation of trail and interpretive signs in the 385-acre Northfield town forest. Contact: Ruth Ruttenberg, 802-485-4554.

AVCC Awards Funds for Local Conservation Projects

Trail work, a publication highlighting local hikes, support for a town-wide natural resource inventory and a natural resources training program for a local community all are expected to go forward thanks to recent grants awarded to local groups by AVCC.

Grants were awarded to conservation commissions in the following towns: Bradford, Dummerston, Milton and New Haven. Each group will receive $600 from the AVCC Tiny Grant program.

“We are proud to be able to help advance, in a small way, conservation projects identified and carried out by local conservation commissions,” said Jake Brown, chair of AVCC. “Supporting this sort of work is what AVCC is all about.”

AVCC has offered this grant program for several years and plans to continue to do so in the coming years. Conservation commissions (or groups working to become conservation commissions) who are members of AVCC are eligible.

Grant Details

Bradford: The Bradford Conservation Commission will use money to publicize and present the findings of a new natural resources inventory to the public in a large community gathering. The result of this will guide land use decisions in the town with ah clear understanding by the citizenry of which lands hold sensitive areas and critical habitat, and are worthy of protecting. Contact: Ed Wendell, 802-222-4657.

Dummerston: The Dummerston Conservation Commission received help to pay for the creation of a brochure with trail descriptions and maps of trails in the town. The brochure, Walks and Hikes in Dummerston, will also note places in town that sell local food. Contact: Mary Ellen Copeland, 802-257-5843.

Milton: Funding will go for a technical assessment, design solutions, and construction to help improve a critical trail that is plagued three seasons a year with water drainage problems. The trail is at the entry to the municipal forest in Milton. Contact: Jacob Hemmerlick, 802-891-8016.

New Haven: the New Haven Conservation Commission will receive money to work with the Shelburne Farms PLACE (Place-based Landscape Analysis and Community Education) program to increase awareness in New Haven of the local, natural landscape. The grant will also fund analysis of the data and production of documentation and mapping that can be used by other boards in town. Contact: Dean Percival, 802-388-0504.