Summit Schedule

Saturday, September 28, 2019 Breadloaf Campus Middlebury College, Ripton, VT

Investing in Vermont’s Conservation Future: Vermont Conservation Design

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Program Schedule

  • 8:30 – 9:00am          Registration (In “The Barn Main Room”)
  • 9:00-9:30am             Welcome and Opening Remarks, AVCC elections. (Barn Main Room)
  • 9:30-10:30am           Keynote Address– (Barn Main Room)
  • 10:45-11:45am         Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)
  • 11:45–12:45pm        Lunch & exhibitor space (Barn Main Room)
  • 12:45pm–1:45pm    Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)
  • 2:00-3:00pm             Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)
  • 3:00-3:30pm             Closing – AVCC Board (Barn Main Room)
  • 3:30-5:00pm             Optional Field Trip with Vermont Land Trust

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Concurrent Sessions

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 after you’ve registered for the Summit & must attend all three sessions.) (Room 206)
Return on Investment in Conservation, Shelby Semmes, Trust for Public Land (Room 101)
In Perpetuity: Protecting Land for Community Value and Ecological Function, Hannah Phillips, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (Room 101)
Town Conservation Fund Panel (Room 101
Big green chunks: Forest Blocks in Regional Plans, Kevin Geiger, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (Room 204)
Vermont Conservation Design: Is it for the birds?,Steve Hagenbuch, Audubon Vermont (Room 204)
Programs, Incentives and VCD on Private Land, Keith Thompson, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, & Recreation (Room 204)
Why species we care about need large landscapes and connectivity, Jim Shallow, The Nature Conservancy (Room 102)
Putting a place in Landscape context Using Vermont Conservation Design, Jens Hilke, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (Room 102) 
Physical Landscape Diversity: A powerful planning tool for climate resilience, Bob Zaino, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (Room 102)

Session Descriptions

KEYNOTE: “Conservation Planning in Vermont and Beyond: From History to Practical Application at the Local Scale Liz Thompson , Director of Conservation Science, Vermont Land Trust Liz will talk about the history of conservation planning in Vermont and in the larger region, highlighting advances in our thinking over the last 50+ years, and how this has culminated in Vermont Conservation Design, the latest conservation plan for Vermont. She will then discuss how these concepts and products can be applied at the local level, using her own town of Jericho (also known as “Ridgeville”) as an example.

FIELD TRIP: 330-5pm (Optional) “Breadloaf Old-Growth Field Trip” Bob Heiser, Vermont Land Trust & Marc Lapin, Associate Professor in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College. This year’s field trip is a modest hike to a rare patch of old growth hemlock forest.  Participants will learn about how natural resources, habitat, and ecological features informed the permanent conservation of the Bread Loaf campus in 2015.

Big green chunks: Forest Blocks in Regional Plans. Kevin Geiger, Planner, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission. This talk will explain how and why we revamped our regional land use areas to use the VCD maps on forest blocks and habitat connectors to create a Forest-Based Resource area. This session will review also review what this means in terms of land use policies, Act 250 and local planning.

Caring for Natural Resources—Taking Action in Your Community (NR2). Monica Przyperhart, Community Wildlife Program, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. This course helps participants choose locally appropriate land use planning strategies for conserving natural resources.  We’ll use case studies and exercises to show how taking action can work in real life. The overall goal is to build an understanding of what you can do, how to work with different people in your community, how to choose appropriate tools to protect natural resources, and how to move from a desire to protect natural resources to an action that works locally. This is a full-day workshop!

Conservation Fund Panel  Representatives from Towns with successful Funds.. In this panel we’ll learn from towns that have successful Conservation Funds. How did those funds come into existence? How are they maintained and used? Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about an important conservation funding tool.

In Perpetuity: Protecting Land for Community Value and Ecological Function. Hannah Phillips   Conservation Analyst, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. Land protection through conservation easements is one tool of many by which we can protect ecological function in perpetuity, and towns can play a critical role in catalyzing and supporting conservation at the local scale. In this session, we’ll share stories of local success in which conservation permanently protected both a community asset and contributed to the larger Vermont Conservation Design vision. We’ll identify opportunities for towns to engage actively in land protection work, demystify the varied partners and pathways to conservation, identify some of the common barriers to perpetual land conservation as well as strategies for overcoming these barriers, and explore actionable steps toward land protection that you can take in your community.

Physical Landscape Diversity: A powerful planning tool for climate resilience. Bob Zaino,, Ecologist, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Vermont Conservation Design is a vision for maintaining all our plants and animals, and their habitats, into the future. To successfully protect plants and animals, we must consider the physical landscapes—the ridges and valleys, bedrock and soils—that are the homes for these myriad species. These physical landscapes are a key component of Vermont Conservation Design, and are essential to planning for climate resilience. Learn what these physical features are, why they are so critical, and how they can be incorporated into conservation planning.

Putting a place in Landscape context Using Vermont Conservation Design. Jens Hilke, Conservation Planner, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. In this presentation, we’ll look at Vermont from a landscape perspective and see how parcels of land, towns and regions can be seen through this lens. We’ll help you interpret what you see when looking at Vermont Conservation Design on BioFinder and how to dig deeper to understand more about what’s present in your area.

Return on Investment in Conservation. Shelby Semmes, VT/NH State Director, Trust for Public Land. Vermont’s Return on Investment in Conservation. Vermonters derive significant economic benefits from land conservation throughout the State. For years, we’ve known this intrinsically but lacked a data-based understanding of the economic value of these investments. In this talk, Shelby will share findings from a 2018 report that quantifies the economic return on land conservation investments by the State of Vermont, and outlines the jobs and economic activity associated with the industries that benefit from a stable and conserved land base in the state.

Programs, Incentives and VCD on Private Land. Keith Thompson, Private Lands Program Manager, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, & Recreation. With more than 80% of Vermont’s forests in private ownership, it is impossible to realize the goals of Vermont Conservation Design without good work by private landowners. There are many programs delivered by many organizations that can advance the goals of VCD. This presentation will cover some of the most frequently used and widely available programs for landowners in Vermont that can support realization of the goals of VCD. Among the programs to be discussed will be Use Value Appraisal, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program and more.

Vermont Conservation Design: Is it for the birds? Steve Hagenbuch, Conservation Biologist, Audubon Vermont. Vermont’s forest landscape is summer nesting habitat for some of the greatest number of bird species in the US. Thoughtful and intentional forest stewardship is a key to ensuring high-quality habitat exists now, and in the future. In this session we will explore bird habitat needs at property and landscape levels and attempt to answer the question “Can Vermont Conservation Design be a model for guiding bird conservation efforts?”

Give Me Land to Roam: Why Species we Care about Need large landscapes, Jim Shallow, Director of Strategic Conservation Initiatives, The Nature Conservancy. Climate change is putting wildlife in motion.  As Vermont’s climate warms the resiliency and connectedness of our landscape will determine how biologically diverse our forests, and rivers will be in the future.  Vermont Conservation Design and TNC’s Resilient and Connected Network can help inform communities about where important core forests are and the lands that connect them.  Case studies from the Shutesville Hill Wildlife Corridor in Stowe and Waterbury and the Route 15 Habitat Connectivity Project in Wolcott will be used to show how connectivity can be used to design place-based wildlife connectivity conservation projects.

Speaker Biographies

Keynote Speaker Liz Thompson. Conservation Planning in Vermont and Beyond: From History to Practical Application at the Local Scale. Liz Thompson is an ecologist, botanist, and conservation biologist who has been engaged in large-scale conservation planning for her entire 40-year career. She loves being in the woods and in the wetlands, and is passionate about conservation. She is co-author of Wetland, Woodland, Wildland, A Guide to the Natural Communities of Vermont, and in addition to her work with the Vermont Land Trust, she teaches part time at the University of Vermont. She has served on the Jericho Conservation

Kevin Geiger, Senior Planner, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission. Big green chunks: Forest Blocks in Regional Plans,    Kevin has been a regional planner for over 20 years, working for 84 towns in the northeast and east-central part of Vermont. He is an expert on local zoning and planning, and has long been involved in water quality planning and floodplain management as well. Kevin also covers emergency management, climate change, and brownfields issues for TRORC. He really likes trees.

Steve Hagenbuch, Conservation Biologist, Audubon Vermont. Vermont Conservation Design: Is it for the birds?  Steve Hagenbuch is a conservation biologist with Audubon Vermont’s Healthy Forests and Working Lands programs. In this role he works with private landowners, municipalities, and natural resource managers in integrating songbird habitat with other forest management objectives. Steve holds a MS in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England and is a Vermont licensed forester.

Jens Hilke, Conservation Planner, VT Fish & Wildlife Department,  Putting a place in Landscape context Using Vermont Conservation Design 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. Jens has taught high school science in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New Jersey and for a study-away program in Thailand, Southeast Asia.

Hannah Phillips, Conservation Analyst, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. In Perpetuity: Protecting Land for Community Value and Ecological Function.   Hannah Phillips reviews grant applications and works on policies for natural area, outdoor recreation, and forest conservation projects for the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. She is a graduate of the Field Naturalist/Ecological Planning Graduate Program at the University of Vermont, where she conducted an ecological assessment of the 17,400-acre Atlas Timberlands in northern Vermont for the Vermont Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy. She recently volunteered with the Town of Richmond to develop a management plan for the new Andrews Community Forest, and in her free time loves bushwhacking throughout our public lands in pursuit of hidden and obscure natural communities. She is particularly smitten with forested headwater wetlands.

Monica Przyperhart,  Community Wildlife Program, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Caring for Natural Resources—Taking Action in Your Community (NR2) Monica works with Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Community Wildlife Program. In this role, she aids municipal planners and organizations with conservation, wildlife, and natural resources projects, spanning the gamut from leading educational workshops to analyzing local wildlife habitat to reviewing town plans and bylaws. With a background that bridges the fields of conservation, ecological research, and education, Monica’s career has always had her in a position to bring scientific research into real-world projects.

Shelby Semmes, Trust for Public Land. Return on Investment in Conservation . Shelby
currently serves as the VT/NH State Director of The Trust for Public Land based in Montpelier VT. Previously, Shelby worked as an independent consultant focused on building impact investment funding strategies for working lands conservation and urban greening. From 2011-2015, Shelby managed conservation real estate transactions as a project manager in the California office of The Trust for Public Land. Shelby holds a BA from Barnard College and a Master of Forestry degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where she was a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow. She is a board member of the New Hampshire-based Wonalancet Preservation Association.

Jim Shallow The Nature Conservancy, Give Me land to Roam: Why species we care about need large landscapes and connectivity. Jim Shallow lives in Richmond and works for the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.  He has been active in forest and wildlife conservation for nearly 30 years. While working for Audubon Vermont, he co-created the Foresters for the Bird program.  At TNC, he is working to create a network of resilient and connected lands to maintain Vermont’s biodiversity and its ability to adapt to climate change. 

Keith Thompson,  Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, & Recreation. The Use Value Appraisal Program. Keith is a forester who grew up in Vermont. He has worked as a consulting forester and the Chittenden County Forester before taking on his current role. He lives in Winooski with his son Amos and wife Suzy.

Bob Zaino, Ecologist, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department,  Watershed Restoration Manager The Nature Conservancy. Physical Landscape Diversity: A powerful planning tool for climate resilience  Bob Zaino is an ecologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department who works to understand the patterns and distributions of natural communities, and the myriad species they comprise. His work directly informs the conservation and management of natural communities and rare species in Vermont’s state parks, state forests, and wildlife management areas. He is a co-author in creating Vermont Conservation Design. Bob is a graduate of Bowdoin College and has a master’s degree from the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Program.