Public forum on wetlands and forests for flood resilience

flood
Westminster Conservation Commission is hosting a public forum on wetland and flood resilience. Photo provided.

 

WESTMINSTER, Vt. – On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the Westminster Conservation Commission is hosting a public forum and “listening session” to let residents know about the work the commission is doing to better understand the role of our wetland and forest resources in water storage and erosion prevention.

The Westminster Town Plan includes a section on flood resilience, which encourages the town to evaluate areas that should be protected in order to reduce flood hazards. These types of areas include “floodplains, river corridors, lands adjacent to streams, wetlands, and upland forests, to reduce the risk of flood damage to infrastructure and improved property.”

To this end, the commission applied for and received a small watershed grant through the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department to inventory and assess some of these areas. The grant enabled us to hire ecologist Jeff Littleton of Moosewood Ecological LLC in West Chesterfield, N.H. to help us identify wetlands that are critical for water storage and upland forests that may play a role in flood mitigation through their role in absorbing water, decreasing the water table, stabilizing soil, and preventing run-off and erosion. The commission also hopes to assess these areas both in terms of flood resilience and wildlife habitat.

The Nov. 13 forum will be held at the Westminster Institute on Route 5 at 7 p.m. It will include a brief presentation from Littleton on the inventory work done so far with the bulk of the evening providing an opportunity for residents to share their appreciation for and experience with wetlands and forests in their neighborhoods, their concerns and worries about future flooding events, and their ideas about how the community can best balance personal resource use with management for flood resiliency. The Conservation Commission welcomes everyone’s ideas and suggestions. Refreshments will be served.

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