Leahy touts benefits of community forests in Huntington

-A A +A

Leahy touts benefits of community forests in Huntington

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 2:34pm -- tim
Trust for Public Land Releases Report on Community Forest and Open Space Benefits

Vermont Business Magazine Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) Tuesday visited the Huntington Community Forest to coincide with the release of a special report, "Community Forests: A Path to Prosperity and Connection” by the Trust for Public Land. The property, immediately adjacent to the Brewster-Pierce Memorial School, is one of many forests in Vermont and across New England and the nation that offer community members and students the opportunity to learn, play, and connect with nature and each other.

Using the historic Vermont town forest system as a model, Leahy, as the senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, led the creation of the Community Forest and Open Space program (CFP) as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, one of the several ‘born in Vermont’ ideas that he took to Washington and broadened to national scope.  In his leadership role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has also been the lead advocate for annual funding of the program since its authorization. 

Vermont has completed seven CFP projects, more than nearly any other state — most recently the Huntington Community Forest.

The special report, released by The Trust for Public Land in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and with generous support from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, takes a case-study approach to understanding and exploring the numerous economic benefits provided by community forests created through the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (CFP).

Senator Patrick Leahy said:  “The case studies by Trust for Public Land provide exactly the evidence that I look for as we work to build support on the Appropriations Committee for the great benefits to local communities that flow from this targeted and modest program.  Local open space and parks became even more important during the COVID pandemic, with some even becoming school classrooms.  TPL’s great work in Vermont and in other states has helped make this a reality.”   

“Community forests, like the one we helped establish in Huntington, play such an important role in giving residents a direct say in how their natural resources are managed, while creating a space that drives economic prosperity, educational opportunities, and more,” said Shelby Semmes, Northern New England Area Director for The Trust for Public Land.  “We’re so honored to have support from leaders like Senator Leahy to continue our work to create more spaces like these across the region and country that contribute to healthy, flourishing communities.”

According to recent analysis by The Trust for Public Land, 67 percent of Vermonters don’t have park or publicly available open space access within a 10-minute walk of their home, and 23 percent don’t have that access within a 10-minute drive of their home.  Locally managed community forests are a critical part of closing these gaps at a time when we need it most.

The completion of the Huntington Community Forest in March offers students an outdoor classroom to learn, play, and connect with nature.  Brewster-Pierce Memorial School is a leader in Vermont in outdoor education, as one of the first schools in the state where all students are given the opportunity to go out into nature during the school day.  Permanent protection of this outdoor natural area for students in the community is so vital, especially when data shows children today are spending 50 percent less time outside than children in 1980.  The project received $385,000 from the CFP in 2020.

The Trust for Public Land is a national leader in the growing community forest movement, which, throughout New England, has become a powerful tool for protecting resources and locally manage forested landscapes.

Visit tpl.org/community-forest-economic-case-studies to access the additional handouts and learn more about the individual case studies.

Source: HUNTINGTON, Vt. (TUESDAY, June 29, 2021) – Senator Patrick Leahy