Grassland-nesting bird populations continue to decline in numbers in Vermont, according to recent surveys conducted by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bird species that nest in grasslands include vesper sparrows, grasshopper sparrows, bobolinks, and eastern meadowlarks, among others. The birds nest in hayfields or cow pastures, and are threatened by changes in agricultural and land use practices, according to biologist John Buck of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
A Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department botanist and his wife were out for a weekend hike at Raven Ridge Natural Area in Monkton recently when they discovered a flowering plant that has not been seen in Vermont in decades and was thought to be extirpated, or locally extinct. Everett Marshall was hiking with his wife, Deb Parrella, when she noticed the small purple flowers of winged loosestrife (Lythrum alatum) while crossing a boardwalk through a wet meadow. Parrella is also a trained botanist.
The Environmental Careers & Opportunities (ECO) AmeriCorps program is finishing up its second year of guiding young people through 11-month placements in environmental service in Vermont. A federally funded program, ECO AmeriCorps is administered in the state through the Agency of Natural Resources and provides recent college grads the opportunity to learn new skills while receiving on-the-job training at government agencies and nonprofits throughout the state.