Conservation Resolution

Conservation as a City Goal


On June 5th Burlington’s City Council unanimously passed a resolution titled “Burlington’s Trails & Natural Land Conservation Initiative-recognition, connection & stewardship of Burlington’s Open, Natural and Wild Spaces” sponsored by City Councilors Richard Deane (pictured) and Joan Shannon. This conservation resolution begins the process of creating an integrated trail system to connect open lands across Burlington. Partners hope this project will help educate citizens of Burlington on how to conserve nature so that it can be enjoyed for years to come.



The Resolution Passed by Burlington’s City Council


In the year Two Thousand Seventeen

Resolved by the City Council of the City of Burlington, as follows:

That WHEREAS, the natural areas and open spaces within Burlington’s boundaries are rich, diverse and unique, including wild spaces, parks, green borders, gardens, tree canopies, vacant lots, cemeteries, and formal and informal paths, some well-known and others hardly recognized, that represent an invaluable ‘green’ asset to the city, providing lasting ecological, social and economic value; and


WHEREAS, these natural areas provide opportunities for physical activity, family and social interaction, connection to sunshine, greenery and fresh air, and peaceful respite from the stress and bustle of urban life, equitably supporting general health and a sense of well-being for all Burlington’s residents regardless of their economic status; and


WHEREAS, within Burlington’s natural borders of Lake Champlain to the west, and the delta of the Winooski River to the north and east are found ancient ravines, caves, deep sands, marine clays, rich dolomite outcroppings of ancient bedrock and geologic records that chronicle the historic ebbs and flows of the Winooski River; and
WHEREAS, Burlington’s green and wild spaces include ecologically and agriculturally rich river floodplain acreage, remnant sand dune communities, globally rare plants, and wildlife corridors traveled by bobcat, moose, fox and mink; and
WHEREAS, the geological, botanical, historical, ecological and wildlife resources located in, and supported by, Burlington’s wild and green spaces provide deep and varied educational opportunities to all Burlington’s residents from all walks of life; and
WHEREAS, these natural, wild and green spaces are dispersed and not understood as a connected, interdependent and valuable resource, allowing little opportunity for the collective conservation, management and promotion to Burlington’s citizens; and
WHEREAS, these precious and diverse areas are currently under multiple ownership and jurisdictions and utilized for multiple purposes, some with strong conservation protections and others with none, and while some are heavily or even over-used, others are hidden and consequently remain undervalued and underappreciated; and


WHEREAS, if we do not act imminently to formalize our understanding of these dispersed natural and wild spaces as an interconnected and valuable resource, then they could be lost as they are irrevocably divided from each other, or developed for uses incompatible with green space, wildlife preservation and public use, or become increasingly degraded through inappropriate and excessive use; and
WHEREAS, there is a significant amount of connectivity already in place between many of these spaces supporting wildlife and ecological processes, as well as a network of both formal and informal footpaths, trails and byways already utilized by hikers, bikers and walkers; and
WHEREAS, the network of trails, paths and by-ways in certain areas has developed haphazardly and insensitively through years of informal use, resulting in areas of erosion and destruction to some of the most sensitive natural environments; and
WHEREAS, there is now a significant potential to enhance, revise, connect and expand this existing network through an organized, focused and considered program of public signage, promotion and programming, increasing the value of trails and open natural green and wild spaces to all – residents, plants and wildlife alike; and
WHEREAS, other forward-looking cities like Philadelphia, New York City and Middlebury, VT have recognized the potential of green space stewardship and citizen connection to natural spaces as an enhancement to the public good and the economic vibrancy of their cities, and Burlington with a renewed focus on connection, stewardship and public access to our network of wild and natural areas can also assume its place as a recognized leader in urban natural area conservation;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we should achieve lasting conservation and connection of Burlington’s wild and natural areas, and demonstrate and enhance their value and beauty to all Burlington’s citizens and to those who visit our city, such that they may persist through the generations, enjoy increased protection, use and support, and continue to contribute to the ecological, cultural, and economic value of our city; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council directs that the Conservation Board work cooperatively with other key organizational partners, including the Winooski Valley Park District (WVPD) and Burlington’s Department of Parks & Recreation (BP&R), on this long-term stewardship and conservation initiative. The initial goals for this work should include:

a)Gaining agreement from critical stakeholders on a shared commitment to the conservation needs in the city,
b)Establishing an actionable work plan outlining achievable steps towards collective and collaborative stewardship of our network of natural areas that provides greater access, protection and connection ofour valuable green, open and wild spaces,
c)Identifying key leadership, organizational and funding resources to support a process that formally connects our green network of conserved lands with signage, trail improvements, events, and other amenities and enhancements including a publicly available map and guide of our natural and wild areas,
d)Organizing and convening a CONNECTING & PROTECTING BURLINGTON’S GREEN,NATURAL & WILD SPACES SUMMIT that gathers concerned land owners, stewards, and conservation experts to develop a plan for further action, and
e)Providing a report back to the City Council with further recommendations for action; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Burlington should seek to further the conservation and connectivity goals laid out by the existing ‘Open Space Plan,’ ‘The Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Masterplan’ and the ‘planBTV Walk Bike Master Plan’ by identifying opportunities for increased support, funding and collaboration with land owners, stewards, conservation and education organizations, including the Burlington Department of Parks and Recreation, the Winooski Valley Park District and others with interest in the city’s natural areas to achieve improved conservation through all appropriate measures including securing conservation easements, possible land acquisition as needed and available, implementing trail improvements and appropriate trail reduction, and enhancing wildlife corridor connections and public access.

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