Over 500 Trees Planted in the City’s Newest Park

A collaborative project between BRPW and University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Natural Resources, restores the newly acquired 12 acres behind the former Burlington College property


May 4th brought crews from Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront (BPRW) and over 45 UVM student volunteers to improve the newly acquired 12 acre park space behind the former Burlington College property.


This project is a partnership between the City of Burlington, BPRW and the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Natural Resources. Since February, Dan Cahill, the BPRW Land Steward, has been working with Professor Bill Keeton’s Ecological Restoration class on a student service learning project at the former Burlington College site.


Students visited the park several times during the semester to collect data and make assessments. They also met with key stakeholders involved. Nine student teams designed restoration projects for the park and created an adaptive management plan. After further review, Professor Bill Keeton pulled together the revised plans into one cohesive plan to implement on May 4th Work Day.


This is Professor Keeton’s 15th service learning restoration project that his classes have done throughout the state.


“Working with the City Parks Department on a project so important to the community has been a great experience for the class,” said Dr. Bill Keeton, Professor of Forest Ecology and Chair of UVM’s Forestry Program. “It helps them apply the science to the complexities of the real world. Plus, the students get their hands dirty planting trees and doing other restoration activities; which at the end of the day is a gratifying feeling for all of us, including the instructor.”


The final plan includes several factors that balance healthy ecology with public-use park space. The student’s projects focused on restoring the heavily degraded site through invasive species removal, gulley and lakeshore bank stabilization, and trash cleanup.


The plan aims to reintroduce native plant communities, establish pollinator gardens, improve wildlife habitat, as well as support community-based recreation that includes open areas, community gardens & edible plants. Possible edible plantings include Hazelnuts, fruit trees and Blueberries.  The students also worked hard on the trail and recreation recommendations that are integrated into the overall design.


BPRW’s Land Steward, Dan Cahill is excited about the completion of the project. “This newly revitalized land brings together many aspects of much needed parks amenities. The New North End will benefit from additional community garden space and open areas for recreation. The formalized paths will allow easier access to the bike path and waterfront, while preventing further erosion of the steep hillside.”


The highlight of the day included the planting of over 500 native trees.


Some of the trees, specifically the Pitch Pines, were donated by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, who had been growing them from locally collected seeds at a nursery operated by Green Mountain College. Additionally, two dozen disease resistant American Chestnuts were supplied by the American Chestnut Foundation, providing an exciting opportunity to reintroduce this species into a site they may have occupied before blight decimated the tree species throughout its entire range in the Eastern US in the early 20th Century.


Many more of the trees were grown in the Intervale Conservation Nursey or obtained from other nurseries growing locally adapted native varieties. The Intervale Conservation Nursery grows native, locally sourced trees and shrubs for riparian restoration projects throughout Vermont.  The Nursery works with landowners, farmers, watershed organizations and government agencies to restore and protect Vermont’s waters.


The park’s proximity to Lake Champlain and steep banks make it a prime location for controlling storm water runoff and require thoughtful erosion control. The area that will see the highest number of trees planted, is the gully at the end of the informal trail that show high degradation but serves as a riparian buffer. That area alone will get 180 trees planted including Cottonwood, Red Maple, Red Oak, Bitternut Hackberry, Yellow Birch and Witch Hazel.

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