During the 2022 legislative session, Act 146 was passed and signed into law, amending Vermont’s Current Use program by adding the sub-category of Reserve Forestland to the Managed Forestland land use category.
This new forest land use category will place more emphasis on forest ecosystem conservation. The Agency of Natural Resources is still in the process of developing the rules of the Reserve Forestland category, but you can find preliminary information about the category at https://fpr.vermont.gov/forest/uva-reserve-forestland.
There, ANR notes, “Reserve Forestland is not a ‘do nothing’ enrollment option. While the requirements for the category are not finalized, if a property is eligible, restorative management for old forest values and functions will be required under certain but somewhat common conditions. Required restorative strategies may include invasive plant control and restoration of hydrologic function or others. Where restorative management for old forest values and functions forest is not required, passive management will be eligible.”
Their rules for restorative management practices for enhancing old growth functions and values will surely draw from the research and recommendations of Anthony D’Amato and Paul Catanzaro, whose publication, “Restoring Old-growth Characteristics to New England’s and New York’s Forests,” encourages growing more large trees longer, increasing the number of standing dead trees, and leaving more large downed wood. We’ve tweaked Vermont Family Forests’ Organic Forest Ecosystem Conservation Checklist to reflect their recommendations.
Though limited to a small subset of landowners whose land meets particular characteristics, the Reserve Forestland category is a step in the right direction, moving toward an Earth-centered, rather than human-centered, world view. Enrollment in this new category will not open until July, 2023. But we wanted you to know that, come next July, if your land meets the criteria, you could have an opportunity to take part. Stay tuned!