- Increasing community awareness and use
The Woodbury Town Forest, like many town forests throughout Vermont, is underutilized. It is virtually unused by residents, with the exception of some hunting. The Woodbury Conservation Commission is interested in increasing awareness and promoting the use of the 65-acre parcel. Woodbury is seeking possible improvements to access and recreational use. To guide these improvements, the conservation commission is seeking technical assistance and community input.
Woodbury (population 906) considered two properties, the Woodbury Town Forest and the Woodbury Town Wetland, in the development of their town forest recreation plan. The Woodbury Conservation Commission manages both properties, with some oversight from the town Select Board.
The Woodbury Town Forest is a 65.7-acre parcel near the center of town. It has belonged to the town since the 1950s, and it has not been actively managed since coming under town ownership. In 1998, the Select Board adopted a resolution (which is still the guiding management principal for the forest) supporting the conservation of the forest. There is currently no other management plan for the forest. The forest has many interesting cultural and ecological features, including a cellar hole, mature hardwood forests, vernal pools, and visible bedrock formations. Bears and moose are known to frequent the forest. It is also home to many reptiles and small mammals. The forest is currently used by hunters and snowmobilers. Otherwise, few residents are even aware that it exists.
The Town Wetland is adjacent to the elementary school. The Town and the school each own a portion of the property. The Wetland itself is a shallow body of water that the school uses for canoeing and as an outdoor learning lab. There are a few trails around the wetland area. The school’s “friends organization” is currently working on a designated gathering/observation space and classroom near the wetland and has recently secured grant funding to move that project forward. The school and town are planning for the area collaboratively.
The word trees below demonstrate what the community answered when they were asked what word or phrase best describes their existing or desired future experience with the town forest – the size of the word corresponds to the number of times it appeared in the responses.
Strategies to Implement Vision
As a result of the planning process, the town generated a robust action plan matrix. Working with the Town Planning Commission, the steering committee selected several steps that seemed to achieve the greatest result with a manageable amount of effort. Strategies include:
- Parking lot and access trail
- Wetland Outdoor Education Facilities
- Develop a trail system
- Educational programming
- Trail maps
- Access paths and connections
Words of Wisdom
Paul Council, Chair of the Conservation Commission, shares, “Whoever is the main person should allow plenty of time for various phases of developing the plan and have lots of patience because it can take a while. It helps to have a couple of people – especially with different skill sets than yours – to support you. It takes time and patience, but it’s totally worth it.”