skip to content
Vermont Family Forests
Donate to VFF

Conserving The Health Of Our Local Forest Community


What's Alive in the Forest?

VFF's Latest Workshop Explores Forest Biodiversity


In our latest workshop, forest landowners explored Vermont Family Forests’ “Abraham’s Knees” forest in Lincoln through the eyes, ears, and expertise of a team of scientists that conducts on-going forest monitoring for VFF's Colby Hill Ecological Project.

Read our story about the workshop

Workshop Bird Species List with links to resources

Abraham's Knees wildlife list, June, 2018




Listing of Small-Scale Woods Workers

Vermont Family Forests has created a list of woods workers who do small-scale log forwarding, trucking, and portable sawmilling.


View and download the listing



Vermont Master Naturalist Program, Bristol-area Training

Now Accepting Applications



“Advancing conservation, building community, connecting Vermonters to the wild heart of place.”

Vermont Family Forests aims to cultivate what Aldo Leopold described as "an intense consciousness of land." That's why we're delighted to spread the word about a training program that does just that. The Vermont Master Naturalist Program is currently accepting applications to a Bristol-based training program, offering in-depth training in local natural history.

Who: Ten to fifteen Bristol Five-town Area (Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, Starksboro, New Haven) residents with a sustained interest and background in at least one natural history discipline will be chosen through an application process. The program training will be overseen by Alicia Daniel, who has taught for thirty years in the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Master of Science Program, and who has adapted that landscape-level training for use in communities. Alicia, the executive director of Vermont Master Naturalist, and other local experts will provide training for the candidates.

What: Through a series of field trips to key natural areas, VMN Bristol Five Town Area candidates will explore the processes that shape a landscape and learn a timescale for the major events that created the landscapes seen in the region today. Candidates will spend time on each site exploring the geology, soils, plants and animals, human land use history, disturbance processes, and management concerns. In addition, each Vermont Master Naturalist candidate will have an outside practice designed to deepen his or her naturalist skills of observation and description.

Upon completion of the 30 hours of training, VMN Bristol candidates will design team projects to engage with schools and/or community members totaling at least 20 hours per person. These self-designed volunteer projects will be created in collaboration with local organizations with the goal to address specific needs in conservation education and/or stewardship. Upon completing the program, Vermont Master Naturalists will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for as long as they choose and will receive ongoing advice and support for their naturalist practices and activities.

Why: Developing ecological literacy isn't just exciting and fun--it's also an important community resource. A community of naturalists can help solve ecological issues facing our wild lands and serve as resources for conservation education in schools and communities.

When: Field trip dates are September 16, 2018; October 21, 2018; January 19, 2019; March 30, 2019; and May 5, 2019 from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Candidates will also attend 3 or more public walks or other natural history events during the year.

Cost and deadline to apply: The fee for the year-long training is $395, collected after a candidate is accepted to the program. The early admission deadline is June 1 with all applications due by July 1, 2018. Generous scholarships are available. Candidates will be notified by July 15.

Download an application to the program.
For more information, visit the Vermont Master Naturalist website.
Please direct any questions to Chris Runcie, who is coordinating the Five-town Area Program.



Vermont Family Forests' 2017 Annual Report is Here!

2017 was an action-packed year at Vermont Family Forests. Read all about it in our latest annual report, hot off the press.

Download a PDF of the 2017 Annual Report

Bringing VFF's Organic Forestry to NOFA Vermont's

Annual Winter Conference

On February 19, VFF's David Brynn presented at the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont's Annual Winter Conference. His talk encouraged a wholistic, forest-centered approach to our interactions with the forest community. He suggested a significant shift from conventional forest practices, evidenced by the alternative titles to his talk. The first title addressed the hands-on, practical, prudent conservation practices that VFF advocates:

The presentation's second title addressed the reciprocal, soulful relationship that emerges from mutually beneficial connection with the forest:

View a PDF of David's PowerPoint presentation.

David offered three handouts to participants that summarize the conservation standards he described in his presentation. Click the links below to see them in PDF format:

12 Key Forest Access Practices

16 Key Forest Vegetation Practices

VFF's Organic Forest Health Conservation Checklist

VFF Purchases Abraham's Knees

On December 28, 2017, Vermont Family Forests became the new owner of Abraham's Knees, a 53.2 acre parcel of wetland and forestland formerly owned by Willy and Lynn Osborn. We are honored and excited to hold this land! We imagine it as a place to practice wholistic, adaptive, forest-centered conservation. A place to explore mutually beneficial relationship with the forest through careful, contemplative, hands-on work with the land.

See the Map of Abraham's Knees

Upcoming Event!

"Restoring the Balance: Environmental Personhood and
the Rights of Nature"

presentation and discussion with Robin Wall Kimmerer

Unity Hall, Congregational Church, Middlebury
Friday, February 16, 6:30 pm

Don't miss the chance to hear and talk with Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, botanist, professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Potowatami tribal member.

read the event flyer

Landowner Survey Results

In August, 2017, we sent a survey to the 150 or so landowners Vermont Family Forests has worked with over the years in some capacity, most often by developing a forest conservation plan for Vermont’s Current Use program.

See the compiled survey results

Twelve Key Forest Conservation Practices for
Conserving Water Quality, Attenuating Peak Storm Flows, & Enhancing Flood Resilience in a Rapidly Changing Climate

David Brynn took part in the Friends of the Mad River Community Forum, "Climate of Change," which engaged community members in conversation and action to respond to climate change in the watersheds of home. He shared his list of 12 forest conservation practices that help slow, spread, and sink rainfall and runoff in Vermont's forests.

Read the 12 Key Forest Conservation Practices


Aboard the Lois McClure

For VFF's community outreach coordinator, Sandra Murphy, a week aboard the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's canal schooner, the Lois McClure, revealed much about transformative relationships between our regional canals and the forests of home.

Read the story >


Building an Earth Oven

This summer we built an earth oven at VFF’s Anderson Wells Farm. We finished it just in time for an inaugural firing in July during a gathering we held for all the neighbors whose lands border the three VFF Anderson properties.

Read about and see photos of the earth oven building process


Restoring the buildings on VFF's Anderson lands

In 2016, Vermont Family Forests assumed ownership of three remarkable properties formerly owned by Lester and Monique Anderson. Since then, we've been assessing and carefully restoring many of the buildings on those lands.

Read about and see photos of the restoration process


Qigong at Anderson Wells

VFF's Anderson Wells land was a perfect setting for the "Gathering of Wild Geese", a qigong (pronounced "chi-gung") workshop led by long-time Lincoln resident Mark Johnson in August, 2017. The fluid, graceful movements of this Chinese movement practice draw inspiration from natural forms and forces.


Re-thinking Vermont Forestry in a

Rapidly Changing Climate, Economy, & Culture

David Brynn's recent address to the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission makes the moral case for forest ecosystem conservation based on the virtues of our collective history.

Read the address


A Quarter Century of Monitoring

Don't miss this sobering report on the many songbird species in decline in interior foresty . It also offers plenty food for thought for good ecological consideration of what may be “natural” changes given the maturation of the forests and what might be change trends driven by the many anthropogenically imposed stresses on the forest ecosystems.

Read the report

Stem to Stern:

Planting the Seeds of Forest Stewardship

through the Story of Forests, Boatbuilding, and Canals

In July, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Sailing Canal Boat Lois McClure will set out on its 2017 Legacy Tour. Titled "Waterways & Trees: Stewarding Their Interconnected Relationship," the tour will celebrate the vital role of "boatwood" trees, such as white oak and white pine. As the Lois McClure  makes its way from Burlington to Syracuse, for the World Canals Conference on September 24-25, the ship's crew and educators will stop at ports and schools along the way, involving participants in hands-on activities exploring forest ecosystems, the history of forestry, different uses for wood products, and the crucial role the forest plays in fostering clean water, soil health, and rich habitat.

Read LCMM's blog post about the project here.


Our 2016 Annual Report is here!

Family Forestry 101: Cropping and Rewilding --PowerPoint presentations available

If you weren't able to attend the Family Forestry 101 workshop, you can take a look at the PowerPoint presentations by three of our presenters. Contact them directly if you have any questions about their presentations.

View the PowerPoint presentations:

Crop Tree Release

Considering Wildlife Habitat

Forest Management for Flood Resiliency and Water Quality

Mary Sisock of the University of Vermont Extension talked about Crop Tree Release. Contact her at

Dave Adams of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife discussed managing for wildlife habitat. Contact him at

Kristen Underwood of South Mountain Research and Consulting discussed hydrology, flood resiliency and water quality as it relates to forest management. Contact her at

Flood Resiliency on Vermont State Lands--Latest Developments

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) Lands Stewardship Team contracted with David Brynn of Vermont Family Forests and Kristen Underwood of South Mountain Research & Consulting to evaluate the policies, plans, and practices on state-owned lands, with a goal to enhance flood resiliency. We submitted our final report, Enhancing Flood Resiliency of Vermont State Lands to ANR on June 30, 2015.

The agency responded to that report with a recently released action plan for enhancing flood resilience and improving water quality on ANR lands, State Lands and Flood Resilience: Challenges and Opportunities.

You can read both our report and the state’s action plan here:

Enhancing Flood Resiliency of Vermont State Lands

Appendices to Enhancing Flood Resiliency of Vermont State Lands

State Lands and Flood Resilience: Challenges and Opportunities

Forestry Forum at the Vermont Folklife Center—Now on Video

In late 2015, VFF Executive Director David Brynn participated in panel discussion at the Vermont Folklife Center, entitled "Vermont’s Working Forests: Challenges and Opportunities." On the panel with David were Michael Snyder, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation; Paul Costello, executive director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development; Jamey Fidel, general counsel and director of the forest and wildlife program at the Vermont Natural Resources Council; and Tom Yager, head forester at A. Johnson Co. in Bristol. Middlebury TV filmed the event, which is now available for viewing. Check it out! The Question and Answer session, which begins at about 45:00, offers an engaging discussion.

Watch the video

Winter Solstice Celebration 2015

Local community members ushered in the light of lengthening days during the annual winter solstice celebration at the Waterworks property on December 21. With a bonfire, music, poetry, pagentry, food, song, and good conversation, we welcomed the winter season.

See photos of the celebration

The Forest Hut is Complete!

On the summer solstice, June 21, students in the Hogback Community College From Forest to Frame at the Waterworks Property in Bristol for the final day of their three-day course. There, under the guidance of master timber framer Will Gusakov and VFF Executive Director David Brynn, they erected a beautiful timber frame forest hut on the Ann Hoover Dam at the Norton Brook Reservoir, made of white pine, maple, and red oak from the surrounding forest.

In the weekends that followed, David Brynn and a few of the students added a metal roof, completing the structure. Come by the Waterworks Property and experience the forest hut for yourself.

See photos of the building process

Fifteen-year Summary Report on Amphibians

Colby Hill Ecological Project (CHEP) herpetologist Jim Andrews and his research team just released their summary findings of reptile and amphibian populations at the CHEP study sites in Lincoln, VT, for 2000-2014. Their report identifies trends in several populations, including red-bellied and garter snakes, eastern red-backed and spotted salamanders, and wood frogs.

Read their report

Learn more about CHEP

A New Season for VFF and LCMM Longboats

Since 2001, Vermont Family Forests has facilitated the process of providing VFF-verified wood to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Rowing Gigs program. Using this wood, Hannaford Career Development Center students team up with LCMM master boatbuilders to craft a beautiful wooden rowing boat each year. VFF's David Brynn just spent time in the woods with this year's Hannaford students, exploring forest health, assessing trees, and selecting pines for boat building that the forest can yield without compromising its health.

Read more about the collaboration between VFF and LCMM here.

View a great video highlighting this long-standing collaboration here.


Celebrate CLEAN WATER!

Get a copy of our new bumper sticker and spread the word about Vermont's premier forest product. Send us a self-addressed stamped envelope and we'll send one your way!

Find VFF's FOREST HEALTH CONSERVATION CHECKLIST here: "Healthy, productive, beautiful forests start with CLEAN WATER"

Lester C. Anderson Photography

Lester C. Anderson's remarkable photos of local and global life graced local galleries in 2014. Now they're available for purchase, with all profits benefitting the Five-Town Friends of the Arts.

View photography portfolio and order forms.

VFF Response to New UVA Requirements for Sugaring

Vermont’s Use Value Appraisal (Current Use) program recently released revised standards for maple sugar production on enrolled forests. VFF conservation forester and executive director David Brynn raises a concern that they are unduly restrictive and should be viewed as recommendations and not standards for continued enrollment.

Read the new UVA sugaring standards here
Read David Brynn’s response, "Sweet Freedom and Unity"

View from the Forest: CHEP motion-activated camera

As researchers gear up to begin the 18th field season monitoring the biodiversity and ecological processes on a family forest in Lincoln through the Colby Hill Ecological Project, mammalogist Chris Gray shares highlights of wildlife images captured in 2014 by a motion-activated camera in that forest.

View the photos here

Read more about CHEP

Farming Magazine Features Vermont Family Forests

Check out this story on Vermont Family Forests, featured in the August, 2014, issue of Farming Magazine.

Read the story

VPR Radio Broadcast on Family Forests

On October 27, 2014, VFF Director David Brynn joined VPR host Mitch Wertlieb and VT Forests and Parks Commissioner Michael Snyder to discuss Vermont's family forests--the challenges they face, the role they play in our ecosystem, the state's Current Use program, and more.

Listen to the broadcast!

Protecting Our Water Commons

Conserving our water commons is at the root of ecologically sustainable forestry, resilient forests, and flood-resistant landscapes in the face of the peak flows of a changing climate.

Read David Brynn's remarks to the

Lewis Creek Association 2014 annual meeting.

Toward a Resilient Vermont Forest-based Economy

How do we go about creating a resilient forest-based economy in Vermont? Read our commentary and find out!

Sugaring Time

Check out Sheila McGrory-Klyza's new story in Whisk magazine about the art of maple sugaring at the Brynn family forest. The story not only illuminates the annual family ritual of tapping and boiling sap, but also includes dynamite recipes!

Read it here.

Becoming the New Aboriginals

"For conservationists and land users, understanding and preserving the capacity of the land to be resilient is now job one. Being sustainable is likely yesterday’s story."  

Read more in our article, From Sustainable Forestry to Resilient Forestry.

The Hogback NeighborWood Heating Cooperative!

A vision for producing firewood in a way that is restorative, sustainable, efficient, local, and fair (R-SELF).

Read about it.

Email us if you'd like to receive a hard copy of the HNHC report.

Exploring change within Vermont's Acceptable Management Practices for Maintaining Water Quality on Logging Jobs

Read Thoughts on VT FP&R's Draft Revisions to the AMPs.

Read VT FP&R's Proposed AMP Revisions_ December 2012 draft.

Read "Restoring Vermont's Forests" VFF in VTSierran.

Read VFF COMMENTS on (April 2012) Proposed Changes to VT AMPs.

Read What Should the New AMPs Look Like?

Read What is a Healthy, Working Forest Landscape?

Read What is a Working Forest?

Site updated: 07/8/16