Parcelization and Forest Fragmentation Roundtable

Convened by the Vermont Natural Resources Council

Initial Meeting

June 27, 2006


Meeting Summary


Meeting Participants: John Austin, Virginia Barlow, Put Blodgett, Farley Brown, Bob Burt, Marta Ceroni, Cindy Cook (Facilitator), Paul Costello, Robert DeGeus, Ed Delhagen, Jamey Fidel, Erhard Frost, George Gay, Leo Laferriere, Lynn Levine, Stephen Long, Mark Lorenzo, Carl Powden, Mike Rainville, John Roe, Jim Shallow, Eric Sorenson, Brain Stone, Andy Whitman, and Jonathan Wood


Observers:  Bob Hawk, Katie Maneras, Lucy Donaghy, Johanna Miller, Kenneth ____


Welcome and Overview of the Roundtable

Jamey Fidel, Forest Program Director at VNRC welcomed participants and thanked them for their commitment to the roundtable discussions.


Ground Rules

The group reviewed and approved the draft ground rules, and noted the need for clarity regarding how this group will make decisions and recommendations.  Cindy will circulate a draft regarding the group’s decision-making process for everyone’s review and comment, prior to the next meeting.


Goals for the Roundtable

The group reviewed and revised the Draft Goals for the Roundtable, and agreed to add the phrase “and forest land loss” at the end of the bullet beginning “To share information and educate” and to add the following new bullets:

The group agreed that forest fragmentation is a significant problem, and that participants want to focus their time and energy on addressing the causes of parcelization and fragmentation and solutions for curbing their effects in Vermont.


Overview of VNRC’s Forest Conservation Campaign and Goals for the Roundtable

Jamey gave a slide presentation that described Vermont Natural Resource Council’s Forest Conservation Campaign. A hard copy of the presentation is available to anybody who would like one.





Some general comments were that there is still a good percentage of land in Vermont that is owned in large parcel sizes and presentations on trend information should reflect this. In addition, not all transactions that involve forestland are necessarily harmful. Some transactions involve repeat sales of the same land, etc. 


John Roe commented that the roundtable should not confuse urban development trends with parcelization in rural communities and that the roundtable should define the parcel size that is of concern for discussion purposes.


Several participants noted that planning is an important component of addressing parcelization and fragmentation. Jamey noted that VNRC is working with planners to develop templates for forestland conservation. VNRC may convene another roundtable to discuss planning issues later this year or try to integrate more planners into the roundtable process.  Farley noted that it’s important to remember that different communities have different needs, and face very different issues.


Other comments were that ownership trends and data need to be updated; general values and causes of forestland development need to addressed; biomass and energy are related issues and may involve international policy; and globalization is a contributing factor.


Jonathon thanked VNRC for convening the roundtable, and noted that the topic is a timely one.


Roundtable Participation

Jamey asked people for feedback regarding the composition of the roundtable.  He noted that he was trying to create a group that represented a broad range of perspectives, while at the same time keeping the group size manageable.  He emphasized that the roundtable is an open process, and that anyone is welcome to observe meetings. 


Participants made the following suggestions re additions to the group:





Discussion of Roundtable Meeting Themes

Participants raised the following issues as roundtable meeting themes in response to the question: What’s the most significant challenge to keeping Vermont’s forest parcels intact?


Discussion of the Draft Roundtable Meeting Topics

Participants made the following comments regarding the draft meeting topics:


What We Know –And Don’t Know--About Forest Land Ownership Trends in Vermont

Andy Whitman, of the Manomet Center in Maine gave a presentation on existing data regarding forest parcelization in New England.  Once VNRC has created a website for the roundtable, Andy’s presentation will be posted on the website


Bob DeGeus spoke about what we know, what we think we know, and what we don’t know about forest ownership trends in Vermont.


What We Know

Bob noted that:


What We Think We Know


What We Don’t Know


Next Steps

The July 25 meeting date is problematic, as this is the day that the new GMNF Supervisor has a meeting with a number of members of the roundtable. The July meeting may be postponed due to conflicts.  Several people indicated that they would appreciate a more central meeting location for some of the meetings.  Jamey will consider people’s input, check space availability, and e-mail information regarding the next meeting date and location.


The group agreed to review draft definitions by e-mail, prior to the next meeting.


Ideas for discussion at the next meeting included:

4    Demographics and social values

4    Decide what parcel size we are focusing on

4    Tax issues

4    Cost savings associated with land in current use (Deb Brighton)

4    Dave Kittridge, UMass

4    Develop a model to conceptualize what’s happening

4    Brett Butler – Forest Service

4    Bill Rossmassler re town conservation commissions

4    League of Cities and Towns for municipal representation