Vermont’s forest landownership is changing. Trends in housing density suggest that the amount of land in parcels larger than 50 acres declined by 42,000 acres between 2003 and 2009, while the number of parcels between 2 and 10 acres increased by 4,300. With financial support from the USDA Forest Service, VTUCF has been working with partners to develop a Backyard Woods Online Course, for homeowners of less than 25 acres who want to learn more about the woods in their backyard -- what’s in it, who (wildlife) uses it, and how they can become better caretakers of it. The course includes 4 online learning modules, a hands-on session, and a learning journal with activities for participants to complete each week. At the end of the course, participants walk away with a Backyard Woods Action Plan tailored to their specific property.
In June 2016, VT UCF piloted the course to residents of Washington County. In the fall of 2016, we offered the course to residents of Chittenden and Addison Counties. The program has been a great success! According to one participant, "I look at my woods with newfound understanding of how to be a steward. The program provided so much information, direction, and resources which has already and will continue to help me in our woods!" Program participants have identified a range of activities as part of their Backyard Woods Action Plan, including cultivating edible mushrooms, removing invasives honeysuckle, planting a pollinator garden, and making maple syrup.
This winter, we will be taking the Backyard Woods Program south with an offering in Windsor and Windham Counties. Learn more about the program by clicking here.
Photo credit to John Snell