In 2010, Willowell partnered with the Vermont Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department to conserve 109 acres of wetland and forest adjacent to Pond Brook in the Lewis Creek watershed. This project extends an important wildlife corridor between the Green Mountains and Lake Chaplain and serves as a living laboratory for area schools and community groups who wish to study wetland ecology.
Thanks to a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, an exciting part of the conservation project is the restoration of nine acres of marginal agricultural land to valley clayplain forest. This is a unique ecosystem found only in selected spots in the Champlain Valley. Since spring 2011, four Addison County schools and several community groups have helped with the restoration, planting native trees and shrubs, removing aggressive exotic species, and monitoring plant growth.
We were also proud to partner with Barre CityScape and AmeriCorps members to host an after school program in March 2012. Students took a trip during their spring break to help us move woody brush into the wetlands, where it will add contour to the land and create habitat for animals. In May 2012, 500 students from Addison County schools planted an additional 900 trees, making our 2-year tree-planting total 1,700!
Visiting the wetland is a great way to learn about ecology, conservation, and natural history, and helping us restore the wetland is a wonderful service to the human and natural communities. Our two-year tree planting project has ended, but we always welcome school groups interested in using our wetland as a laboratory. If you are interested in visiting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.