Making a Plan for Your Forest

After forming a steering committee, evaluating the forest's condition and potential, and completing an initial public engagement process, you may be ready to create or revise a town forest management plan. These plans:

  • establish the purposes of the town forest
  • provide processes for evaluation of its uses
  • designate specific use type areas, and
  • broadly identify management objectives including timber goals, recreation uses, ecosystem restoration, or any other suite of land-based uses. 

A forest management activity plan further establishes detailed management objectives in specific portions of the forest and a reasonable timeline.

Today, town forest committees must navigate the compatibility of many interests and pressures on these parcels of land. Long-time local residents, relative newcomers, local businesses, and municipal select boards and school boards may advocate for a mix of land preservation, hunting and fishing access, recreational trail networks, commercial or non-commercial logging, landscape aesthetics, and the ability of a forest to contribute to local businesses and economies through tourism. 

For town forest committees that are looking to expand recreational opportunities, the Recreational Trails Program offers competitive annual grants funded through the Federal Highway Administration.  Eligible projects include trail maintenance, new trail construction, and development or rehabilitation of trail parking areas and trail amenities such as signage, kiosks, composting toilets, recycle receptacles, or structures along the trail directly associated with the trail.  Learn more about the Recreational Trails Program in Vermont or contact with specific questions about funding for town forest trails

To learn more about the nuts and bolts of town forest management plans approved by local select boards, read the sample forest management plan below. If town forest recreation planning is your special interest, visit some of the Town Forest Recreation Stories, part of the Vermont Town Forest Recreation Toolkit.

Resources: Forest Management Plans in Town Forests

Town Forest Management Case Studies

Andrews Community Forest (draft - final coming soon)

Barre Town Forest

Bennington Town Forest

Catamount Community Forest

Canaan Town Forest

Hinesburg Town Forest StoryMap and Case Study (draft - final coming soon)

Hogback Mountain Conservation Area (draft - final coming soon)

Middlesex Town Forest

Mills Riverside Park

Milton Town Forest

Waitsfield Town Forest

Town Forest Management Plans
town forest webinar series logo

Town Forest Management Planning 101

Keith Thompson, Stewardship Program Manager with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, breaks down the process of creating a management plan for town forests. Community speakers Sarah Downs of the Enosburgh Town Forest Committee and Dan Seely and Jessica Boone of the Richford Conservation Commission share their experiences with management planning.

Watch the webinar