CAANAN — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, in partnership with other conservation organizations, recently planted two thousand trees along the upper Connecticut River in Essex County in an effort to restore floodplain forests. The trees were planted on six acres of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Johnson Farm Wildlife Management Area, along with adjacent privately-owned lands managed in partnership with the Vermont Land Trust.
In addition to tree species native to floodplain forests like silver maple, basswood and red maple, American elms that have been specifically bred to be resistant to Dutch elm disease were also planted. The Nature Conservancy bred the trees as part of a larger effort to restore American elms to floodplains throughout New England. American elms were the dominant tree in northern floodplain forests prior to Dutch elm disease.
“Restoring floodplain forests like these goes a long way towards cleaning up Vermont’s waterways,” said Jane Lazorchak, biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “These forests slow erosion along the river bank and they absorb large quantities of water during major rain events, lessening the potential impacts of floods to communities downstream.”
“Floodplain forests also serve as important travel corridors for all sorts of wildlife that are dependent on intact forests along rivers, including wood turtles, mink, and otter,” said Lazorchak. “The forests are also critical nesting habitat for to wood ducks.”
“This is another great example of Vermont’s conservation community working together to accomplish great things,” said Lazorchak. “There is a long list of lands conserved and species recovered thanks to the strong partnerships among Vermont’s government agencies and nonprofit organizations.”