MONTPELIER — This spring, volunteers planted over 3,000 trees in wetlands, along streams and in prime songbird habitat on farms in Chittenden County.
Among the 130 volunteers were students from Essex High School.
Iris Hsiang, a junior at EHS, organized fellow students to plant trees to offset the amount of paper the school uses each year.
“Planting trees not only cleanses our soil, air and water, but it connects us to one another and the planet in a way that every good education should,” she said. “If we are to craft a livable future, we will do so by caring for one another, the soil, water, and all other living things.”
The plantings along Muddy Brook and a tributary of the LaPlatte River, as well as at the confluence of the Winooski River and Mill Brook, will restore woodlands and wetlands with native trees and shrubs to protect water quality in Lake Champlain and improve wildlife habitat. These streams and rivers are all a priority for the state's clean water efforts.
The restoration projects happened on Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho, Bread & Butter Farm in South Burlington and Nordic Farms in Charlotte.
Together with partners, including Friends of the Winooski River, Partners for Fish & Wildlife and Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Land Trust is working with these farms to restore wetland and stream areas that can protect communities from damaging floods, keep phosphorus out of the lake and provide habitat for migratory songbirds.
“When you get your hands in the soil and plant a tree, you’re connecting with your watershed and helping to care for it,” said Allaire Diamond, an ecologist with the land trust. “You become part of helping it function as a healthy system. It’s energizing to get outside and work with so many volunteers, and farmers, on our local farms.”
Volunteers also included members of the Jericho-Underhill Cub Scout Den 620, Green Mountain Valley School, Ursa Major Skincare, SunCommon, the ECO AmeriCorps program, Nordic Farms and Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.
At Jericho Settlers Farm, volunteers planted 1,600 trees to restore a floodplain forest where the Winooski River and Mill Brook meet.
At Nordic Farms, 800 native shrubs and trees were planted along a stream that flows into the LaPlatte River, improving breeding songbird habitat.
In South Burlington, 750 new willow and alder shrubs will restore wetland in low-lying areas along Muddy Brook on Bread & Butter Farm. These restored areas will help slow floodwaters, reduce erosion, and filter and store water.
These efforts were made possible with funding from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Habitat Stamp Program, the US Fish & Wildlife Services' Partners for Fish & Wildlife program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology Land Trust Small Grants Program, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and other sources.