By Charlie Hancock, CHC Board Chair
On behalf of the Cold Hollow to Canada board, I want to wish everyone a very happy, healthy New Year, and thank you for your continued support of our work toward a vision of a healthy and intact forested landscape that supports a strong and sustainable local economy through stewardship, with protection of core wildlife habitat and connectivity across the entire Northern Forest.
As I sit by the woodstove this morning and watch yet another snowy morning take shape out the window, I find myself reflecting on the incredible accomplishments we’ve been able to achieve over the last nine years together, accomplishments which wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of our community. This past year we raised over $23,000 to support our work from small foundations in our region, and individuals like you. We’re continually humbled by your support but also emboldened in knowing that the CHC stands with us as we work together towards our vision.
Cold Hollow to Canada has a number of ventures in our sights for 2019. We’re excited to continue working with our Woodlots groups in Montgomery, Enosburgh, and Richford. The Woodlots program, launched in 2013 with 12 landowners spanning over 2,000 acres in the town of Enosburgh, the project has grown to add close to 30 additional landowners spanning over 8,000 acres. This project, engaging landowners in a cooperative approach to forest stewardship, has become a vanguard program for CHC, and one that has gained interest and acclaim across New England as a model for advancing collaboration in conservation.
With more than two-thirds of Vermont’s forests privately owned, it falls to individual forest owners to manage wildlife habitat, to find solutions for the effects of climate change, and to develop ways to help forests adapt for the future. As the project has shown, by coming together around a shared passion for their land and working with informed professionals around common interests, private landowners are galvanized to participation. Woodlots ownerships also become demonstration sites which can be leveraged to share the vision to the broader community and with other conservation organizations. CHC’s approach to peer-to-peer woodlands management is unique because it engages landowners with contiguous properties in prioritized forest blocks. CHC then provides resources, technical assistance, and educational support to guide the discussion among the group. The Woodlots group then works together to develop a blueprint for a collaborative approach to future management actions, and a greater commitment to conservation.
This year we’re also excited to expand into a new project area. Cold Hollow to Canada has partnered with our friends at the Vermont Land Trust to bring the first landowner aggregation project in the northeast to the voluntary carbon market in 2019. Working with landowners within the CHC region, the project seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of generating forest carbon offsets on the Vermont landscape, and in so doing achieving co-benefits like flood resilience and working forest conservation. The project will also conduct information dissemination and training, particularly for state and professional foresters as well as landowners, to raise awareness of this opportunity and overcome potential barriers to carbon market participation. Keeping our managed woodlands economically viable is a critical component to achieving our vision, and we see the potential for carbon offsets a potentially game-changing tool to help achieve it.
None of this work would be possible without you. So again, thank you, thank you, thank you. Your support is the foundation upon which we work together to achieve our shared vision.
One last thank you before I sign off. With the close of 2018, we said farewell to our Program Director, Bridget Butler. Many of you may know her as the Bird Diva, but we knew her as an incredible woman who helped our tiny organization achieve what we could only dream about. She kept us in line and moving forward, whether ensuring that the board stayed on task, developing new programs like Wildpaths, or pouring over the innumerable pages of grant documents that secured the critical dollars that directly support our work with landowners, we simply could not have done it all without her. While we’re sad to see her move on, we’re also excited to see what amazing things she’ll do next. We also take solace in knowing she’s not going far, and that we’ll still get to hear her every now and again when we turn the dial to VPR. Best of luck Bridget, and thanks for reminding us that not all heroes wear capes.
Now dig into the rest of the newsletter, where you’ll find a host of news and information, including an introduction from Liza Morse, who’s joined our team as the new Administrative Coordinator. Liza’s bring a lot to the table, and we’re thrilled to see what we can accomplish as we move forward together. All the best for you and yours in the New Year, and don’t forget to watch this space for the exciting things to come.