The recovery of Vermont’s forests is a remarkable story. By the late 1800s, trees covered only 20 to 30 percent of the state. Today, as we enter the 21st century, Vermont is more than three-quarters forested.

The health of our forests is generally excellent due to the good stewardship of most forest owners. All of us, however, can contribute to the health of Vermont’s forest lands.

Consider these one dozen ways you can help Vermont’s forests:

  1. Always be careful with fire outdoors. Be especially watchful during early spring before the grass greens up and when the forests are dry in late summer and early fall.
  2. Start or join a tree board or conservation commission in your community to inventory, plant, and maintain street and shade trees and plan for natural resources in your town. Encourage town road crews to consider tree health when they salt or prune. Ask that your town plan include tree and forest conservation provisions.
  3. Reduce, reuse, and recycle paper at home, work, and school.
  4. Use Vermont forest and wood products. If we support Vermont’s wood products manufacturers who use sustainable forest practices, we demonstrate personal responsibility for the utilization, conservation, and propagation of Vermont’s forests. This also applies to Vermont Christmas tree farms and forest speciality product businesses.
  5. Subscribe to (or borrow) a natural history or forest and wildlife management publication tokeep abreast of the latest in habitat and ecosystem management. Build a personal library of field guides and books on natural history.
  6. If you own forest land, be a good steward. Call your county forester to see how woodlands of any size can be nurtured to provide wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.
  7. Get out and recreate in the woods. Get close to nature, trees, and Vermont’s rural landscape to deepen your understanding and appreciation of Vermont’s forests.
  8. When landscaping around your house, plan for native trees that fit in with the surroundings. Plant trees away from roads and drives, septic tanks, and utility lines. Use care when plowing snow, mowing, and weeding near trees. If you’re building a house, plan for your landscape trees before you begin your site work. Clear as few as possible, and protect the remaining trees from damage during construction.
  9. Support deer and moose hunting in Vermont. Keeping our wildlife in balance with their forest habitat benefits them and the trees they depend upon for food.
  10. Support environmental education in your town’s schools and youth groups. Volunteer to help with field trips and activities that get kids outside and teach them about forests.
  11. Don’t import forest pests. Know where nursery stock and wooden packing materials originate, and dispose of them properly. If you import trees or shrubs from other states, be sure they have been inspected. If you observe an unfamiliar insect or disease on a tree or shrub, contact the Forest Health Lab (241-3606) in Waterbury for information and diagnosis.
  12. Conserve your forest property beyond your lifetime. Land trusts and many other conservation organizations can ensure that your forest will be preserved for future generations.