What we do / Featured projects

Restoring Clayplain Forests

  • Location: Shoreham and Statewide
  • Year completed: 2023
  • Project areas: Forest Health Projects
  • Partners/sponsors: Private Landowners, US Forest Service, Women Owning Woodlands

VYCC’s Forest Health Crews fell trees, open canopies, remove invasive plants, and plant native trees and shrubs. They gain a variety of skills including Game of Logging chainsaw certification; some Members earn the US Forest Service A-Sawyer certification through VYCC. 

“When you plant a tree, or fell a tree, you know that is going to be there probably longer than you are. That is what initially drew me – wanting to make a lasting difference.” – Michael Bass, 2023 Forest Health Crew Member  

Three 2023 crews completed 19 forest health projects across the state.  

Melita Bass is restoring 100 acres of woods and abandoned farmland along Lake Champlain’s shoreline. In 2023, she hired a VYCC crew for the third consecutive year through Women Owning Woodlands. VYCC crews have cleared invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle along the shoreline. They have also planted native species of trees and shrubs to restore native plant communities. The VYCC’s planting work provided essential labor in order for Melita to participate in a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service financial assistance program, which helped cover the cost of plants and  materials. 

Melita says, “Many parts of my project can’t be done by contractors, who use heavy equipment, due to the terrain and remnants of prior agricultural use such as metal fruit tree stakes and barbed wire imbedded in trees. VYCC crews can work carefully within the forest with chainsaws and hand tools––which is ultimately more efficient and has far less negative impact on natural communities.”   

In the video below, Crew Leader Eva Tillett explains how the crew’s project is helping restore Vermont’s clayplain forest. This type of forest, growing out of rich clay soil, once ran along Lake Champlain. Now a rare natural community after being heavily logged and farmed, conservation groups are working to restore original clayplain forests. Eva and the crew planted native tree species as part of this effort.