October 31, 2014

Local planting project to take root on Earth Day

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April 21, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Nine species of trees and shrubs will be planted along this section of the Allen Brook in Williston as part of the global Earth Day initiative. The vegetation will form a riparian buffer zone to help protect the brook from excessive soil erosion along its banks and runoff from nearby agricultural operations. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Earth Day turns 41 on Apr. 22, and organizers hope to mark the occasion with “A Billion Acts of Green” around the globe. That ambitious goal will be addressed on a local level by two projects aimed at adding more green to the natural landscape.

Williston has planned a special planting effort to coincide with Earth Day. Preparations will be finalized on Friday for the vegetative restoration of 3.5 acres of land that borders Allen Brook, a process that will generate stormwater offset credits through the planting and transplanting of various tree species.

“It’s a big kick-off project,” said Jessica Andreoletti, town planner and staff liaison to the Williston Conservation Commission. “We plan to duplicate this restoration effort over multiple parcels with interested landowners throughout 2011.”

The Allen Brook Restoration Project will entail planting strips of vegetation up to 150 feet long along the main body of the brook and 50 feet long along its tributaries. The strips will comprise native shrubs and trees including silver and hard maple, box elder and numerous live willows that were donated to the project by private and corporate landowners in town.

“Willows have deep-binding root systems that can help hold together streambeds and other areas prone to erosion,” said Ian Ambler, a Stowe-based landscape designer and contractor hired by the town to work on the project. Ambler said that measures will be taken to give the newly planted saplings “a leg up” on competing flora and natural predators, including polypropylene brush mats on the ground and collars around the bases of the trees.

In order for the project to generate stormwater offset credits, the land must be under municipal control. Andreoletti said the town is in the process of securing easements for the parcel involved in the Allen Brook project. She said that independent appraisers will determine the value of the land being converted from field to forest, and that the end result of the entire process will benefit all parties involved.

“It’s a win-win-win situation,” Andreoletti said. “It helps improve the water quality in the Allen Brook, which is a major goal for the town of Williston. Landowners can receive funds for their easements, for land that is already undevelopable because of town ordinances. And the credits will go into a bank, where future developers of projects in the Allen Brook watershed could use them to meet stormwater offset requirements.”

Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, created Earth Day in 1970. Originally conceived as a “national teach-in on the environment,” the first Earth Day was essentially a nationwide protest against corporate America’s lack of environmental responsibility.

Last year’s 40th anniversary Earth Day saw 225,000 people participate in a Climate Rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The annual event’s national organizing body, the Earth Day Network, currently reports its online membership at more than 900,000 people.

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