2017 Summit Schedule

Saturday, September 23, 2017 Common Ground Center, Starksboro, VT

Conservation into the future!

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Program Schedule

  • 8:30 – 9:00am          Registration
  • 9:00-9:30am             Welcome and Opening Remarks, AVCC elections.
  • 9:30-10:30am           Keynote Address– Allan Thompson, Waterbury Conservation Commission
  • 10:45-11:45am         Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)
  • 11:45–12:45pm        Lunch & exhibitor space
  • 12:45pm–1:45pm    Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)
  • 2:00-3:00pm             Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)
  • 3:00-3:30pm              Closing – Karen Freeman, AVCC
10:45-11:45am    12:45pm–1:45pm 2:00-3:00pm  
Caring for Natural Resources—Taking Action in Your Community (NR2), Monica Przyperhart (Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department) (Participants should pre-register for this training by emailing Monica.przyperhart@Vermont.gov after you’ve registered for the Summit & must attend all three sessions.)
Recruiting and Engaging Youth for Conservation Commissions, Joe Colangelo (Shelburne Town Manager), Kyle Bergeron (Shelburne Natural Resources and Conservation Committee), Asa Richardson-Skinner (Youth member of Montpelier Conservation Commission), Nancy Jones, Chair, Bradford Conservation Commission; Secreatry AVCC Board Strategic planning and prioritization for Conservation Commissions, Jens Hilke (Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department) Making Citizen Science & Smartphone Technology Work for You, Bridget Butler (Bird Diva Consulting & Cold Hollow to Canada)
Planning Trails with Wildlife and Plants in Mind, Bob Zaino (VT Fish & Wildlife Department) Wetlands Now and in the Future, Zapata Courage (Department of Environmental Conservation) BioFinder and the Future of Vermont’s Landscape, Liz Thompson (Vermont Land Trust), Robert Zaino & Jens Hilke (Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department)
Climate Smart Conservation, Melissa Gaydos (National Wildlife Federation) Economics of Conservation, Kim Royar (VT Fish & Wildlife Department), & Joe Roman (Gund Institute, University of Vermont) The Why and How of Zoning Workshop, Kate McCarthy (Vermont Natural Resources Council)

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2017 Conservation Summit event page

Session Descriptions

KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Using Partnerships as Vehicles for Action. Allan Thompson (Waterbury Conservation Commission). Partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships that can help leverage action and empower disparate groups and organizations. These relationships work, in part because they help partners by reaching audiences or accessing resources that may be otherwise unattainable. There are many examples of successful partnerships throughout Vermont, operating within multiple scales and conservation commissions can use partnerships to help achieve their goals. In this Keynote Address, Allan will describe Waterbury’s Conservation Commission work with the Shutesville Hill Wildlife Corridor and how partnerships have helped Waterbury – and their partners- achieve some important goals related to wildlife habitat planning.

Planning Trails with Wildlife and Plants in Mind. Bob Zaino (VT Fish & Wildlife Department)Town forests and conserved lands can be outstanding places for recreation trails. But trails can also have inadvertent impacts to the plants, animals, and natural communities found on those lands. Through case studies and interactive examples, participants will learn how the Agency of Natural Resources evaluates the ecological suitability of potential trails on State Parks, State Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas, and how those tools and processes can be adapted for use in your community.

The Economics of Conservation in Vermont. Kim Royar (VT Fish & Wildlife Department) & Joe Roman (Gund Institute, University of Vermont). The common paradigm is to pitch one against the other: economy vs. jobs or conservation vs. tax revenues. This workshop will discuss the economic benefits that conservation can bring to individual towns and the state as a whole. We will explore the long- and short-term advantages of conservation actions to our health, our economy, and our quality of life. Participants will learn how stewardship and healthy forests can be synonymous with a healthy economy.

Climate-smart Conservation: Guidance for designing and carrying out conservation in the face of a rapidly changing climate. Melissa Gaydos (National Wildlife Federation) Climate change is already having significant impacts on the nation’s species and ecosystems, and these effects are projected to increase considerably over time. To ensure that wildlife can continue to thrive in a rapidly changing climate, we need to make conservation “climate-smart.” This presentation offers an introduction to designing and carrying out climate-smart conservation, including a high-level summary of some of the key points emerging from NWF’s the climate-smart guidance and a brief introduction to the four overarching themes, the key characteristics, and the steps of the climate-smart conservation cycle.

Wetlands Now and in the Future, and the role they play in overall conservation efforts across towns and the State. Zapata Courage, District Wetland Ecologist, VT Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Wetlands Program. Participants will learn about what a wetland is and the functions and values they serve on the landscape. Participants will come away with information about wetland mapping and community inventory, water quality concerns and wetland conservation efforts, zoning language for wetland and wetland buffer protection, wetland reclassification to increase protection, and how wetlands address climate change-looking towards conservation in the future. There is a role for conservation committees to play in wetland protection, education opportunities, and hands-on-work. Come and learn how you and your community can be involved!

BioFinder and the Future of Vermont’s Landscape. Liz Thompson, Director of Conservation Science, Vermont Land Trust, Bob Zaino, Ecologist, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, Jens Hilke, Conservation Plan ning Biologist, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. This panel presentation features an in-depth look at new science that serves as a vision for our conservation future in a world with changing climate. Through inclusion of physical landscape diversity and habitat connectivity data, the Agency of Natural Resources, Vermont Land Trust and others have provided a tool to help your conservation commissions figure out what to do about climate change. The lands and waters identified in Vermont Conservation Design are what’s necessary to maintain ecological function.

Caring for Natural Resources—Taking Action in Your Community (NR2) . Monica Przyperhart, Wildlife Specialist, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.  This three-part workshop will help you choose locally appropriate land use planning strategies for conserving natural resources. It uses case studies and exercises to show how taking action can work in real life. The overall goal is to build understanding of what you can do, how to work with different people in your community, how to choose ways to protect natural resources, and how to make it happen. Note: This is a 3-session workshop. You must sign up for all three sessions if you wish to take this class. RSVP with monica.przyperhart@Vermont.gov.

Making Citizen Science & Smartphone Technology Work for You. Bridget Butler, Owner Bird Diva Consulting & Program Director Cold Hollow to Canada. During this session, we’ll discover what citizen science is and how you can leverage it for data-driven needs in your community. We’ll explore online platforms like eBird, iNaturalist and a number of different smartphone applications that can support a project with minimal cost. Find out what it takes to get a project up and running and to keep volunteers interested and engaged. We’ll look at a set of Vermont projects as examples and tease out both the stumbling blocks and the successes.
The Why and How of Zoning: A Mini Workshop on How Your Zoning Can Better Support Local Conservation Values. Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director Vermont Natural Resources Council. Local zoning and subdivision regulations are two of the many tools available to communities to help guide where and how development happens. But how do they work? And how can they work better for wildlife habitat and forest health, while still meeting other community goals for housing, businesses, and etc.? In this hands on session we will walk through an actual zoning bylaw so that you can learn about key ways that zoning can be refined to better protect wildlife and forest health in ways that work for your community.
Strategic planning and prioritization for Conservation Commissions. Jens Hilke, Conservation Planning Biologist, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. In this interactive workshop, participants will work through a four step strategic planning process for creating a conservation commission  5yr workplan. Participants will receive the full framework as a digital worksheet that they can use with their commission and will wrestle with some of the tough considerations in this type of planning like how to assess the actual capacity of your commission and how to work through goal setting and prioritization. With all members on the same page and a shared commitment of how to move forward, your commission will save time and energy. This process can help.
Recruiting and Engaging Youth for Conservation Commissions. Joe Colangelo, Shelburne Town Manager, Kyle Bergeron, Shelburne Natural Resources and Conservation Committee Member, Asa Richardson-Skinner, Youth member of Montpelier Conservation Commission, Nancy Jones, Chair, Bradford Conservation Commission; Secreatry AVCC Board. In this exciting panel presentation, participants will hear from leading voices in collaboration between high schools and conservation commissions, including youth members that are currently serving who’ll talk about their experience in engaging in this work, as well as veterans of municipal work who’ll share their experience in setting up these collaborations. The future of conservation depends in no small part in on our ability to engage the next generation in the values of conservation and community service. Let’s start the conversation on how we do that!

Speaker Biographies

Bob Zaino (VT Fish & Wildlife Department) Bob Zaino has worked for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department since 2008.  He holds a master’s degree from the Field Naturalist program at the University of Vermont.  As the Department’s state lands ecologist, Bob is responsible for the inventory, assessment, and monitoring of natural communities and important ecological features on State Parks, State Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). He collaborates with other state lands managers to protect and enhance significant ecological features and develop state lands long-range management plans.

Kim Royar (VT Fish & Wildlife Department) Kim Royar has worked with the Department of Fish and Wildlife since 1981 in various roles.  She began her career with the Department as a habitat biologist providing technical assistance to private landowners around managing and improving their property for wildlife.  For 20 years she was also responsible for the conservation and management of Vermont’s  furbearer populations, and for the last 6 years she worked in the Central office as the Special Assistant to the Commissioner.  Due to the long commute, Kim is returning to the field to take on her previous role as furbearer biologist and also will work to enhance the Department’s role with private landowners.  She has always had a strong  interest in land conservation and was a member of her Conservation Commission for several years.

Joe Roman (Gund Institute, University of Vermont) Joe Roman is a conservation biologist, author, and fellow at the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont. His broad research interests span endangered species policy, marine mammal ecology and conservation, and biodiversity and human health. He has been an Environmental Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil, a McCurdy Scholar at the Duke University Marine Lab, and a Hrdy Visiting Fellow at Harvard University.  Joe is the author of Listed: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act (Harvard University Press, 2011), the recipient of the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award; and Whale (Reaktion 2006), a cultural history of whales and whaling. His science and nature writing has appeared in The New York Times, New Scientist, Audubon, Conservation, among other journals. His research has been covered by the Associated Press, National Public Radio, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other outlets. Joe is the editor ’n’ chef of Eat the Invaders.

Melissa Gaydos (National Wildlife Federation) Melissa is a Conservation Biologist for the National Wildlife Federation, where she works to promote the application of climate-smart conservation practices in wildlife and habitat conservation and restoration throughout the Northeast Region. In that capacity, Melissa conducts research to develop strategies that safeguard wildlife and their habitats from climate-driven impacts, and to inform the use and effectiveness of ecosystem-oriented strategies, including co-benefit nature-based adaptation strategies that serve to increase the resiliency and reduce risk to community assets. Melissa graduated from Hobart & William Smith College with a B.S. in Biology and has a Masters in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England.

Zapata Courage (Department of Environmental Conservation)Zapata received Bachelors of Science from UVM. Since that time, she has fourteen cumulative years of environmental field and laboratory experience with consulting firms, federal and state agencies, universities & non-profit groups. Her experience ranges from tick research to trapping wolves or capturing bats to identifying rare plants in the field to the project management and logistical organization, report writing and currently the technical review of projects with impacts to wetlands as part of the wetland application and regulatory process in the office. Zapata has also been involved with environmental education opportunities over the years and enjoys the outreach and educational aspect of her position with the state.

Liz Thompson (Vermont Land Trust), Liz Thompson has been working on conservation in Vermont since 1984, with The Nature Conservancy, the Vermont Natural Heritage Inventory, as a private consultant, and most recently with the Vermont Land Trust. She teaches botany and ecology to graduate students at the University of Vermont.  She has been an active participant in several statewide conservation planning activities, including BioFinder. Together with Eric Sorenson, she authored Wetland, Woodland, Wildland, a guide to the natural communities of Vermont. She lives in Jericho, where she served for several years on the conservation commission.

Monica Przyperhart (Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department) Monica’s experience spans the fields of land conservation, ecological research, and education, always playing a role that brings science into the everyday world. With Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Community Wildlife Program, Monica works with municipalities and organizations to aid in planning and implementing conservation projects.

Bridget Butler (Bird Diva Consulting & Cold Hollow to Canada) Bridget’s passion is protecting birds and their habitats through outreach, conservation, & citizen science. She helped start the Forest Bird Initiative at Audubon Vermont, she surveys grassland birds for VT Fish & Wildlife and woodcock for US Fish & Wildlife, and she oversees a roadkill project called WildPaths for Cold Hollow to Canada.

Kate McCarthy (Vermont Natural Resources Council)Kate is a land use and environmental planner whose work at the Vermont Natural Resources Council focuses on building sustainable, compact communities that provide residents with housing and transportation options, while supporting working lands, and healthy forests, water, and habitat. Her work at VNRC includes helping towns reduce forest fragmentation, maintain wildlife connectivity, and promote smart growth planning. Prior to working at VNRC, she worked as a regional planner for the Windham Regional Commission in Brattleboro. Kate holds a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University.

Jens Hilke (Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department) Jens Hilke works for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department as a Conservation Planning Biologist. He helps towns, regional planning commissions and non-governmental organizations with their conservation planning efforts. This includes help with GIS natural resource mapping, advice on prioritizing significant natural features and help with implementing town conservation goals. Jens did his undergraduate work at Connecticut College in Environmental Sociology and then got a Masters in Botany from the University of Vermont as a Field Naturalist.

Joe Colangelo (Shelburne Town Manager)Joe Colangelo has served as Shelburne’s Town Manager since 2014 and is an International City/County Management Association, Credentialed Manager (ICMA, CM).  Joe also teaches local government (PA 320) at the University of Vermont in the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics.  Previous local government experience includes service as Town Administrator (Hinesburg ,VT), Assistant Town Manager (Middlebury, VT), and Management Intern (Town of Barre, VT).

Kyle Bergeron (Shelburne Natural Resources and Conservation Committee)Kyle is a Junior at Champlain Valley Union High School with a serious interest in the natural sciences. He has been a member of the SNRCC since 2016, first as a student member through Shelburne’s CBC student program, and now as a full voting member.

Asa Richardson-Skinner (Youth member of Montpelier Conservation Commission),Asa Richardson-Skinder began his involvement with the Montpelier Conservation as an independent study at Montpelier High School last year, and he has continued work with the commission after the class ended. His interest in conservation stems from a love and appreciation of the outdoors and a growing understanding of the multitude of issues threatening our environment.

Nancy Jones, Chair, Bradford Conservation Commission; Secretary AVCC Board Nancy is a retired High School  Biology Teacher at Oxbow Union High School (1987 – 2007). She has served on the Bradford Conservation Commission since 1994 and currently coordinates a Youth Mentoring Program