the Franklin County Conservation District
We assist farmers, landowners, and the community of Franklin County, VT with resource conservation projects, education, and public information. Our efforts to conserve and protect our soil and water resources will enhance our community and county.
Jeannie Bartlett, District Manager
50 S. Main St. #20
St Albans, VT 05478
Help direct local conservation this year!
By October 22, complete this survey to help prioritize USDA funds for conservation and water quality in Franklin, Grand Isle and Lamoille Counties and set the direction of our local workshops and programming. Take the survey here.
In addition, you are invited to attend a meeting to discuss results of the survey and priorities for the USDA and local Conservation Districts on November 8th. Email Jeannie for more information and to RSVP.
Winter 2018 Newsletter
Download PDF: Winter 2018 Newsletter (4.2 MB)
Roadside signs to highlight water-protecting practices on farms
Do you know what cover cropping looks like? How about a field where “no-till” planting is building soil health? As you drive around the county, can you point to streambanks where natural vegetation has been restored?
New roadside signs will be available this spring to point out examples of such conservation practices. The tag-line “For my land, for our water,” conveys the benefits the landowner sees in soil health, streambank stabilization, and crop productivity, as well as the water quality benefits that everyone appreciates. You can learn more about any of these practices by visiting vacd.org/conservation-practices.
With grant support from the Agency of Agriculture, these full-color 17x24” lawn signs are available for just $8. Want to showcase the good work you (or your neighbor) are doing? Buy a sign at the Conservation District office (27 Fisher Pond Rd in St. Albans,) or by calling 528-4176.
Available this spring:
District Assists Farmers with Nutrient Management Planning
Every year the Franklin County NRCD offers assistance to livestock farms in writing their Nutrient Management Plans. This year eight farms are participating in our Nutrient Management Assistance program. We help them take soil samples, make maps of all their farmland, identify areas of erosion or other water quality concerns, and enroll them in UVM Extension’s Nutrient Management Planning class for farmers. The class meets once per week for six weeks in the winter, and the District is available to help participants with work between classes. By the end of the program, all eight farmers will have completed their own Nutrient Management Plans.
Vermont farmers who have developed a Nutrient Management Plan save an average of 23% on fertilizer and are more likely to implement conservation practices like cover cropping on their fields. The State of Vermont now requires many small livestock farms to do nutrient management planning.
Richard Noel began using a nutrient management plan on his dairy farm in the 1970s. “It just made economic sense,” he says. “If you’re not applying nutrients based on your soil test recommendations, you’re running blind and probably over-applying. That’s why it’s not only sound soil science, but it’s sound economic practice.”
If you or a farmer you know needs a Nutrient Management Plan, contact the District this spring! Call 528-4176 or stop by the office. Our program is free and a partnership grant from the USDA-NRCS covers all the costs for nutrient management planning. In addition, stipends may be available for farmers who sign up early. All applications must be received by July 15, 2018.
It’s still winter, but spring is just around the corner! This year we’re excited to offer two native shrubs at an extra discount because of their awesome benefits for wildlife. In fact, they were the first shrubs Bird Diva Bridget Butler planted in her backyard, and you can read her story about them and their benefits for birds here. Full descriptions of all our offerings are available here.
We need your orders early so we can finalize arrangements with our suppliers, so this year we’re instituting early-bird pricing. The current prices are valid through February 28, after which most listings will rise by $1 each. So for the best pricing and availability, place your order right away! You can order online, in person, or by mailing printing and mailing the order form with your payment.
Don’t forget bulk discounts are available on evergreen seedlings and on any order with 25 or more items! Unfortunately we can only process discounts by cash or check, not online, so please stop by or call us.
We look forward to seeing you and your trees! Order forms are also available to order trout for spring pond stocking.
Campers create nature guides with help from Conservation District
This summer the Franklin County Conservation District created nature guides with help from over 150 Richford and St. Albans day campers. Campers contributed their observations on nature walks led at the camps by the Conservation District. Each guide features drawings of over 30 species of local plants and animals observed by the campers, with descriptions from both lead naturalist Jeannie Bartlett and the kids.
“We thought this was an exceptional project,” said Lianne Trombley, Director of the Richford NOTCH Day Camp. “The children had an incredible summer learning with Jeannie and we love the book.”
The guides help kids and their families explore the natural areas in their communities, and they showcase these local kids’ knowledge and sharp observational skills.
The nature walks and creation of the guides were supported by grants from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Small and Inspiring grant program and the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Rivers grant program. Copies of the guides are available at the Conservation District’s office, or from the St. Albans, Richford, and Berkshire town and school libraries. They are also available for free download and reproduction below, or by calling 528-4176.
Appreciating Jerry Yates’ 27 years of service
Jerry Yates joined the District’s Board of Supervisors in 1990 and has been an anchor of our activities ever since. Jerry is well-known among farmers throughout the area and throughout our state. He is outgoing and an excellent dairy farmer and sugar maker, though he may hide those talents with his big heart.
Districts from across the Northeast recognized Jerry’s 27 years of service at a regional gathering in August, and the Franklin County NRCD presented him with a plaque for his years of dedicated service and leadership. We wish Jerry our very best and share our thanks.
Welcoming Doug Lantagne and Brodie Haenke
Doug Lantagne joined our Board of Supervisors in June and has already contributed useful insights and made us all laugh. Doug is a trained forester and worked for UVM Extension for over 17 years, most recently as the Director. He has always worked in natural resources, and he brings scientific knowledge and an understanding of the agencies and institutions collaborating across the State on these issues. On the Board of the Conservation District, he hopes to provide support and knowledge to individuals in the County wanting to be better land stewards. Doug lives in Fairfax, and you can reach him at email@example.com.
Brodie Haenke joined us this September as a Conservation Technician, doubling the staff capacity of our District! This is his second term of service as an ECO AmeriCorps member in Franklin County; last year he served as a Water Quality Technician with the Missisquoi River Basin Association and the Franklin Watershed Committee. He is originally from St. Paul, MN and gained a passion for natural science, field work, and environmental stewardship while studying Geology at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. He loves Franklin County and hopes to continue working with the wonderful people he has met in this area well after his ECO AmeriCorps service ends in August. Reach Brodie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Setting the Table for Songbirds
– by Bridget Butler, Bird Diva
As a light blanket of snow covers the ground and I watch chickadees and finches at my feeders, I think about how I can continue to add more food sources to my backyard. And not just by adding feeders, but by adding native shrubs, plants and trees that will provide not only for my winter friends, but for the variety of birds that will return in the spring.
In the past few years, I’ve been slowly removing invasive shrubs like buckthorn and honeysuckle and replacing them with shrubs native to Vermont that have a high wildlife value, especially for birds. My two favorite families of shrubs are the viburnums and the dogwoods. With a variety of species adapted to different soils and exposure to the sun, it’s relatively easy to find one that will work in any backyard.
When choosing shrubs to plant for songbirds, you’ll want to start to think like a bird. Birds need food, cover and nesting sites when it comes to how they use the landscape. Providing a variety of native trees, shrubs and plants will maximize the number of opportunities you provide the birds to eat, nest and hide. A great resource to learn more about attracting birds through your landscaping choices is Trees, Shrubs and Vines for Attracting Birds, by Richard M. DeGraaf.
Viburnums and dogwoods tend to be a “triple threat” so-to-speak because they cover all the bases when it comes to fulfilling songbird needs. Flowers change to berries that provide great fall foraging for migrants, and many have a dense form perfect for taking cover in and a branching structure strong enough to support nesting.
Here are the first two I added to my yard and some of their awesome attributes:
Red Osier Dogwood, aka Cornus sericea
Look for the bright red twigs of this shrub along the side of roadways during the winter. It forms beautiful, upright thickets especially along ponds and streams or wet meadows. I’ve planted it as a border shrub along our property line where there’s a wet swale. In the summer it has lovely white flowers which turn into berries throughout the summer and its foliage will add to the autumn colors in your yard. It’s a preferred nesting site for the American Goldfinch and a preferred food source for 14 species of birds including Swainson’s Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Ruffed Grouse and Cedar Waxwing.
Other delightful dogwoods for birds include Alternate-leaf Dogwood (C. alternifolia), Silky Dogwood (C. amomum) and Gray Dogwood (C. racemosa).
Maple Leaf Viburnum, aka Viburnum acerifolium
This one will catch your eye as their crimson berries slowly fade to purple in the fall and sometimes hold their berries through the winter. A great boost for American Robins sticking around during a mild winter. I’ve planted this shrub a little closer to the house where the soil is drier. In the wild, Maple Leaf Viburnum is an understory shrub in our forests and tolerates partial to full sunlight. Viburnums are treasured by 26 species of birds, mostly for their berries but many of our game birds and our thrushes love the dense branches and foliage for cover. You can expect viburnums to attract hungry fall migrants like the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Wood Thrush and White-throated Sparrow.
Other fabulous viburnums include American Cranberrybush (V. trilobum), Nannyberry (V. lentago) and Wild Raisin (V. nudum). For more information or to contact Bridget, go to www.birddiva.com.
New documentary on the founding of Conservation Districts
NRCS recently released a fascinating 20-minute documentary on Hugh Hammond Bennett and the history of natural resources conservation in the U.S. Did you know NRCS and the Conservation Districts were formed in response to the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression? The film is an inspiring reminder of why stewardship of our natural resources on private lands is so important, now and into the future. You can watch it here.
Have farmland you’re looking to sell or to lease? Seeking land to establish or grow your farm?
Visit the New England Farmland Finder website to see properties from across the region, or to list your own. The site currently lists over 130 farm properties and has nearly 1,000 farm seekers registered who are actively seeking land or farming opportunities.
The portal not only provides detailed listings that are constantly updated but also guidance around transitioning farmland for those seeking or listing properties. Links to local farmland linking organizations, worksheets to help prepare to assess land, and information about how to establish lease rates are just a few of the other pieces provided alongside the listings of properties throughout the region.
Visit their new website at newenglandfarmlandfinder.org.
NRCS Encourages Proposals for Agricultural Land Conservation Projects
Conservation easements ensure that farmland stays in agriculture, protecting it from development. Non-profits such as the Vermont Land Trust partner with the USDA-NRCS to purchase and monitor easements. So far the USDA-NRCS has partnered to conserve 72,000 acres in Vermont.
If you are interested in conserving your own farmland, forest, or an important place in your community such as a town forest or swimming hole, visit www.vlt.org/protect or call the Vermont Land Trust at 223-5234.
Apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by Feb 16
While applications are accepted any time, NRCS makes periodic funding selections. Eligible producers are encouraged to submit by the upcoming application deadline of Feb. 16 to receive consideration for funding in 2018. Learn more by calling 527-1296 or visiting the NRCS website.
Are you a college student, or will you be this fall? The District awards $500 college scholarships for students from Franklin County studying a conservation-related field.
Please contact our office for an application! All applications due by September 1st.
Work for the District!
Interested in a paid position serving your own local working landscape? The District expects to be hiring this spring. Contact Jeannie for more information. 802-528-4176.
Spring Trout Sale
We will be offering Rainbow and Brook Trout this Spring. 6-8” fish in lots of 25 can be picked up at the NRCS office. 10-12” fish require a minimum order of 50 and will be delivered to your pond, in which case please give detailed directions to it. Pick up and delivery date: Wednesday May 16th, 1:00 pm. Please fill out this form and deliver it with payment to 27 Fisher Pond Road Suite 1 no later than May 9th.
Check Facebook or call the office for details and more events.
- Jan 19 – Farmers’ Watershed Alliance Precision Ag Forum, St. Albans American Legion, 10am – 2:30pm
- Jan 24 – NRCS State Technical Committee Meeting, 9:30am, 356 Mountain View Dr., Colchester
- Feb 10 – Guided snowshoe along the Missisquoi Wild & Scenic River, 1:30 – 3pm, 393-0076
- Feb 16 – UVM Ext Hop Growers Conference, S. Burlington Sheraton
- Feb 17-19 – Northeast Organic Farming Association (VT) Winter Conference, UVM Davis Center, Burlington 434-4122
- Mar 1 – UVM Ext No-till & Cover Crops Conference, S. Burlington Sheraton.
- Mar 12 – Missisquoi Wild & Scenic River Film Festival, Jay Peak Resort, 393-0076
- Mar 15 – Organic Dairy Producers Conference
- Mar 18 – Soil Health Seminar and Public Forum, Missisquoi River Basin Association, Westfield, 393-0076
- Mar 22 – Grain Growers’ Conference, S. Burlington Sheraton
- Apr 13-15 – Eagle Hill NE Natural History Conference, S. Burlington Sheraton
- May 5 – District Tree Sale pick-up, see order form pgs 5-6.
- May 16 – District Trout Sale pick-up & delivery, see order form pg. 2.
- June 9 – Paddle & Picnic on the Missisquoi with the VT Wild & Scenic Rivers Committee, 393-0076
- July 21 – River Clean-up on the Missisquoi River with the Missisquoi River Basin Association, 393-0076
District & USDA Offices Move Uncertain:
We have been in the process of moving to downtown St. Albans for the past year, and the move date continues to be pushed back. We don’t mind staying where we are! At this point there is no known date for the move.
USDA-NRCS & F SA, NW VT—527-1296
USDA Wetlands—855-794-3677 x239
VT DEC Wetlands—490-6758
U.S. Army Corps. Engineers—872-2893
Franklin County Forester—524-6501
UVM Ext. St. Albans—524-6501
Agency of Ag. Small Farm Certifiers:
Lake Direct Watershed—272-9636
Missisquoi Bay Watershed—782-3388
VT Land Trust—223-5234
VT Farm Viability Program—828-3370
FarmFirst prof. support—877-493-6216
NW Regional Planning Comm.—524-5958
Missisquoi River Basin Assoc.—393-0076
Farmers’ Watershed Alliance—796-3292
Cold Hollow to Canada
PO Box 406, Montgomery 05471
Friends of Northern Lake Champlain
PO Box 58, Swanton 05488
The mission of the Franklin County Conservation District is to assist farmers, landowners, and the community of Franklin County, Vermont with resource conservation projects and public education. We believe that our efforts to conserve and protect our soil and water resources will enhance our community and our county.
Learn more about the Franklin County NRCD programs.