LaPlatte Headwaters Town Forest Public Walk to Showcase Restoration Projects
On September 28, 2019, the Hinesburg Town Forest Committee and the Chittenden County Forester will host a public walk on the LaPlatte Headwaters Town Forest (LHTF), a 301-acre conserved municipal forest owned by the Town of Hinesburg since 2007. The purpose of this walk is two-fold: to seek input on the upcoming Management Plan for the LHTF and to raise awareness of current restoration and management efforts there.
The Management Plan (MP) for the LHTF is a document, updated every 10 years, which addresses management concerns and recommends actions to address these concerns over the next decade. A major focus of the next 10 years at the LHTF will be the control of invasive exotic plants, and the restoration of floodplain and wetland natural communities, with a goal of improving wildlife habitat, water quality, and ecosystem health.
To participate in the September 28 public walk, meet at 10:00 AM at the LHTF parking area on Gilman Road in Hinesburg, ready to spend a day outdoors in any weather. Participants will tour the southern section of the LHTF from 10:00 – noon, have a picnic lunch (please bring your own) and then join Ethan Tapper, Chittenden County Forester, and Will Dunkley of Trout Lily Forestry Services to discuss invasive species control until 2:00 PM. The walk is free and open to all.
Some of the restoration and management topics that will be highlighted on the walk include:
- The LHTF features unique forested and wetland natural communities, and open areas of historic floodplain. Forested portions are infested with woody invasive exotic plants (primarily shrub honeysuckle and common buckthorn), while historic floodplain/wetland areas have failed to naturally revert from hayfield to forest due to several factors, including the presence of exotic invasive reed canary grass and a regionally high deer population.
- In forested areas, revenue from forest management at the Hinesburg Town Forest (Hinesburg’s other town forest) is funding invasive species control work to improve forest health, diversity and wildlife habitat.
- Additionally, The Nature Conservancy and US Fish and Wildlife Service are launching projects to restore the floodplain/wetland sections of the LHTF, with an overall goal of improving water quality, wildlife habitat and overall ecosystem health. These projects will include several experimental approaches, such as plantings of native species, site preparation through plowing, the installation of deer exclosures, and active invasive species control. These projects are designed to be a model for other floodplain restoration projects.