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Windham NRCD Prioritizes Invasive Species Prevention Through Education and Early Detection

The Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District has utilized a variety of funding sources and partnerships to make combating the spread of invasive plant and animal species a priority. By working with government at the local, state and federal levels and leveraging funds from private foundations, lake associations and companies, the district has created a broad and comprehensive approach to preventing the spread of invasive species through education and early detection. From public access greeter programs to assessments of town forests to aquatic invasive species surveys of waterbodies, this approach has built a coalition of partners dedicated to protecting Windham County’s natural resources for future generations.

Windham NRCD serves as the regional coordinator for aquatic invasive species prevention public access greeter programs at Lake Raponda, Somerset Reservoir and Harriman Reservoir. These programs use paid and volunteer greeters to welcome boaters, conduct brief inspections of watercraft to intercept possible invasive species and educate boaters about the importance of cleaning, draining and drying watercraft between uses. Greeters also collect some basic information that is used to identify likely vectors for future AIS introductions. The Windham County greeter programs are funded through support from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Great River Hydro, The Town of Wilmington, The Lake Raponda Association, the Lake Raponda Environmental Fund, and the Windham Foundation.

Greeters take part in a training with Olin Reed from VT DEC at Lake Raponda

Funding from the Windham Foundation was also used to support aquatic invasive species surveys of Harriman and Somerset Reservoirs by district staff. The results of these surveys will be used to plan future prevention and removal efforts. Funding from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation further supports the program by funding water chestnut survey and removal efforts along the Connecticut River. Water Chestnut, Trapa natans, is an aquatic invasive species that can spread aggressively and have serious effects on local ecosystems and human uses for waterways. The district worked with aquatic biologist Laurie Callahan and a host of volunteers to complete this work.

New to the program in 2022 were town forest assessment walks, lead by the district and Southeastern Vermont CISMA volunteers. CISMA (cooperative invasive species management association) staff visited town forests throughout Windham County to help local officials identify invasive plant species and plan removal efforts. These efforts were supported by funding from the Windham Foundation.

Funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service supported the creation of an early detection, rapid response plan for Japanese Stilt grass in Windham County. Stilt grass, Microstegium vimineum, is a new arrival to Windham County, with detections primarily along the Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro. District staff and volunteers from the Brattleboro Conservation Commission worked with landowners to find new infestations of this troublesome grass species. Outreach efforts in 2022 including a mailing to landowners within the early detection area followed by a door-to-door campaign. The district will be coordinating an aggressive effort in 2023 to map the extent of the invasion, implement removal efforts and launch a scaled up public education campaign.

Combined, these efforts represent a growing emphasis on protection Windham County’s beloved natural resources from a steadily increasing influx of invasives species. Windham County serves as the doorway to Vermont for many tourists. Unfortunately, this also places the county at the front of the line for newly arriving plant and animal species as well. Windham NRCD looks forward to continuing the fight in 2023 with our ever-growing coalition of partners.

Participants search for invasive species on a town property assessment walk in Wardsboro

Supervisor Elections

The Windham NRCD is governed by five elected supervisors who each serve five-year terms. Those interested in serving as supervisor should contact the district to obtain the required petition form. Candidates must obtain 25 valid signatures and turn them into the district by the close of business on October 31st. If more than one candidate turns in the required petition signatures, an election will be held on December 5th. Please contact the district for more information. windhamcountynrcd@gmail.com or 802-689-3024.

Did you miss the Congressional Candidate Forum on Food & Agriculture earlier this month? You can view the recording online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jERXF8YwQH8

More information about the event is below:

Building a thriving, resilient food and farming system in Vermont is critical for the health of the land, our communities, and for ensuring a secure food supply in the face of climate change and other disruptions. 

Join us for a forum with Vermont’s congressional candidates to hear their vision and priorities for the future of Vermont food and agriculture. During the forum, you will have the opportunity to hear from multiple candidates as they respond to questions submitted by Vermonters across the state. 

NOFA-VT co-hosted this event along with 350VT, Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE), Healthy Roots Collaborative, Rural Vermont, Vermont Farm to Plate Network, Vermont Grass Farmers Association (VGFA), Vital Communities, and Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District.

Wake boat Regulation Petition:

A group of concerned citizens has initiated an effort to encourage the Vermont State Government to adopt regulations around the use of wake boats on Vermont’s lakes and ponds. This organization has drafted a petition that members of the public can add their names to if they so choose. To access the petition, please visit: https://gmail.us14.list-manage.com/track/click?u=dd9a64d8c2bfd298d1d966edd&id=e62526fb5a&e=c85d68404f

If you would like more information regarding wake boats and their impacts on Vermont’s lakes and ponds, please view the below document:

Greetings from the Windham Conservation District! The 2022 plant sale has ended with pick-up day held on May 7th. Thank you to everyone who ordered plants – your purchase helped support native plants and wildlife and also helped support your local conservation district! The trout sale will stop accepting orders tomorrow, May 10. Orders of small trout must be picked up at the Brattleboro Agway on Wednesday, May 18 between 1 and 1:30. 10-12″ trout will be delivered directly to your pond.

The district is partnering with the Vermont Land Trust, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and a local landowner on a riparian planting project to benefit birds and protect water quality. We’ll be planting native trees and shrubs in Westminster on Thursday, May 26. We’re looking for volunteers to help plant on this day. We’ll start at 9 AM and folks can sign up for the morning, afternoon or both. If you are willing to help plant some trees, please sign up by emailing Cory Ross at ross.wcnrcd@gmail.com

The March Newsletter is now available and can be viewed online here: https://mailchi.mp/849bbbd596b1/march-newsletter Make sure you don’t miss out on future newsletters by subscribing here: E-Newsletter

The Vermont Climate Action Plan has been completed and can be viewed online here: https://climatechange.vermont.gov/readtheplan

If the Conservation District can be of assistance, please contact us. Our District Offices remain closed to the public due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Please reach out via email if we can be of assistance: windhamcountynrcd@gmail.com

We are still accepting orders for the 2022 Trout Sale! Please note that we do not offer shipping. You MUST pick up your order in Brattleboro on May 18 at the Brattleboro Agway between 1 and 1:30 PM. Orders of large fish (10-12″) will be delivered to your pond directly.

Now available! Click “Go Shopping” to view products and place an order.

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