News Releases

April 30, 2015

Vermont Celebrates 100 Years of Town Forests

Vermont's centennial anniversary of the Municipal Forest Act kicks off this month with the passing of a commemorative town forest resolution and celebration of Vermont's Arbor Day.

Vermont legislators are honoring the foresight of lawmakers a century ago who created the Municipal Forest Act of 1915. The act enabled towns to acquire land, paving the way for the creation of over 300 Vermont town forests.

"Every season is an opportunity for discovery in our town forests -- giving Vermonters an understanding of relationships shared within forest ecosystems," Senator Ginny Lyons said. "One hundred years of forest conservation ensures biodiversity, habit, water quality, fresh air, and enjoyment for future generations."

To celebrate town forests Governor Shumlin has designated Friday, May 1st as Vermont's official 2015 Arbor Day. This year's Arbor Day theme celebrates town forests of Vermont and the benefits they provide. Vermont's official Arbor Day celebration will be held at the State House on Tuesday, April 28th to coincide with the reading of the resolution. Another local celebration will take place on Saturday, May 2nd in Bradford to recognize their work caring for their town forest -- a 517-acre parcel where volunteers through the years have built and maintained over 8 miles of hiking trails that are used by residents and visitors for non-motorized recreation, practiced sustainable timber harvesting, and held numerous annual community events.

Vermont town forests are valued public places that contribute to our health and well-being. They protect open space, provide valuable forest products to support our local economy, protect healthy habitats, and support diverse outdoor recreation. Over 67,000 acres of Vermont's forestland are owned by 168 municipalities and are open to the public. Vermont town forests include a range of lands from watershed forests, community forests, school forests, town conservation areas, and town parks. "We cherish our town forest. The Brushwood Community Forest gives us convenient hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, and snowmobiling on its VAST trail. Plus it provides for sustainable forestry, wildlife habitat, and watershed protection for the Connecticut River, Lake Morey, and Lake Fairlee," says Patricia Ayres Crawford of West Fairlee.

The health of Vermont's town forests relies on balancing the many uses and benefits. "Like Shel Silverstein's 'The Giving Tree,' town forests give through every stage of life, forming important and meaningful relationships with Vermonters," says Representative Rebecca Ellis. The creation and management of town forests require active care on the part of community leaders, forest users, partners, and all residents of the state. The first 100 years of work by these partner organizations and communities has positioned these community-owned lands for success over the next 100 years.

Vermonters are encouraged to discover their local town forest through various activities and events scheduled throughout the year, including walks in local town forests, a social media campaign to capture the infinite ways town forests enrich Vermonters' lives and a writing challenge for grades 3-12 in partnership with the Young Writers Project. The centennial year will culminate with a Town Forest and Conservation Summit in the fall, on Saturday, November 7th. For more information on town forests, how to locate a town forest near you, or how to participate in the events planned throughout the year, visit

The Town Forest Centennial Celebration is sponsored by the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, Northeastern States Research Cooperative, University of Vermont, Northern Forest Center, Trust for Public Land, Vermont Land Trust, Vermont Woodland Association, Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions, and Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Contact: Kate Forrer, Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program, University of Vermont Extension; (802) 223-2389 X 210 or 1-866-860-1382 (toll free);

Source: Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
Last Updated at: April 30, 2015 09:59:03