The Resilient Right-of-Ways project leads towns, within the Lake Champlain Basin, in a collaborative and integrated approach to advance forests, individual trees, and other vegetation in roadside environments as part of a larger system of green stormwater infrastructure. The project, funded by the US Forest Service, extends to both urban and rural communities.
UCF staff is collaborating with a team including staff from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Green Infrastructure Collaborative, and UVM, to increase municipal capacity to support green stormwater infrastructure. The team is tailoring their support to ten priority Lake Champlain basin communities based on local need; examples include municipal bylaw review, training for Development Review Board members, training for Public Works employees, and the creation of visualizations to highlight the aesthetic impact of green infrastructure elements. By understanding where green infrastructure could be introduced or strengthened, towns stand to reduce stormwater runoff and associated costs of “grey” infrastructure while beautifying their downtowns and increasing public benefits that come from shade trees.
The rural roads Resilient Right-of-Ways project highlights the role of vegetated rural roadsides in fulfilling town ecological, economic, and cultural values. Trees, shrubs, and other small plants stabilize roadside banks, reduce erosion, and filter stormwater flowing from roads and neighboring uplands. They also calm traffic, delineate the edge of the road, and sustain the sense of place that many rural towns wish to preserve.
Throughout this two-year project, UCF staff will collaborate with ten towns in the Lake Champlain Basin to conduct rural roadside vegetation assessments and refine recommended best management practices that create and maintain healthy tree canopy, diverse plant habitat, and safe and beautiful roads. Fieldwork and meetings with town staff and volunteers will inform vegetation action plans that reflect the present and possible future of roadside ecosystems, evaluate the capacity of the community to undertake roadside vegetation maintenance and planning, and outline plans for emergency preparedness with respect to storm damage and the effects of tree pests and diseases. Results from these assessments will advise updated state-wide outreach material describing typical vegetated roadside communities and the challenges and best practices associated with maintaining them. This Letter of Collaboration outlines the general scope of work and deliverables that may benefit participating towns.