Public Engagement

In many Vermont municipalities, volunteer committees and boards do the hard work of researching potential town forest sites, assessing the condition of the forests and trails, marking boundaries, hiring needed contractors, and informing neighboring landowners and the selectboard of current actions and ideas. But a town forest is a forest for the whole community, and engaging the public can provide a jolt of energy and an input of stewardship expertise that mobilizes everyone. 

A public engagement process is iterative and takes significant time and focus. While county foresters can provide technical assistance, they cannot know the heart of the community like the residents themselves can. Who walks, bikes, hunts, or birdwatches in the town forest? Who has held classes there for youth or adults? Who might need firewood to heat their home or timber to build a town or school resource? Who has never been to the town forest, and why not? And as community needs evolve, who can continue to ask the people how they best see themselves stewarding this important parcel of town land?

Resources: Public Engagement in Town Forests

Public engagement is at the heart of high-quality stewardship of town forests. Ask early, ask often, and ask for help! Many local organizations can support or train community volunteers to lead community conversations and information gathering.

town forest webinar series logo

Public Input Needed

Jenna Koloski and Jessica Savage of the Vermont Council on Rural Development discuss how to design and facilitate community engagement in town forests. Hear community stories from Jeanette Segale of the Huntington Community Forest and John Scarinza of the Community Forest Stewardship Committee in Randolph, VT.

Watch the webinar