Vermont Land Trust: Hill-Robert Timber Sale

The Vermont Land Trust has updated the forest management plan for a on a 72-acre property in Starksboro that is currently enrolled in Vermont's Use Value Appraisal Program. A timber harvest is also planned.

Project Area

The Hill-Robert property is 72.5 acres in central Vermont in the town of Starksboro. Situated just west of Mt Ellen and the spine of the Green Mountains, the site is moderately steep with a few flat to gently sloping areas. The composition of the forest is largely northern hardwoods with a smaller mixedwood stand that is transitioning to northern hardwoods.

Management Goals

A map of a forested parcel

The primary goal of the landowner is to maintain a healthy and productive forest ecosystem that maximizes the opportunities for growing high-quality sawtimber or other non-timber forest products, such as maple sap. Other goals include: conserving forest health, including maintaining tree species diversity and excluding non-native plant species; protecting water quality, wildlife habitat, forest soils, and rare plant and animal communities; and maintaining scenic qualities and non-motorized and non-mechanized recreational opportunities.

Climate Change Impacts

Climate change is expected to impact forest ecosystems in central Vermont into the future. These include warming of 3.5 to 8.5 ⁰F by the end of the century, with fewer days below freezing and an increase in the growing season by three weeks. On average, the climate is projected to get wetter with more frequent and damaging extreme storms, including intense rainfall that may cause soil erosion. Timing of precipitation is expected to change, with longer periods between rain events increasing the risk of moisture deficits and drought during the growing season. These changes may affect invasive plant and pest and disease pressure on forests in addition to limiting opportunities for winter harvesting. Northern species such as sugar maple, yellow birch, and white birch that comprise much of the canopy on the site are predicted to decline in the region. Northward migration of future-adapted species may be slower than the expected changes in climate that would create suitable habitat for these species, resulting in declining forest health and productivity over time.

Challenges and Opportunities

Some of the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents to meeting management goals include:


Loss of dominant species may result in difficulty maintaining species diversity
Sugar maple may be replaced with red maple
White ash may be eliminated by emerald ash borer
Increase in extreme storm frequency may reduce number of snags which are necessary quality wildlife habitat


Microclimates can be utilized to maintain current species
Root sprouting species (aspen, beech) may be maintained in the short-term through regeneration by harvesting
Longer growing seasons may help in maintaining beech and faster growth of desired species
More frequent stressors (ice damage, insect pests) may increase snags for wildlife habitat

Adaptation Actions

Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:


Entire property
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
Monitor for non-native species annually
4.2. Prioritize and maintain sensitive or at-risk species or communities.
Maintain spruce and fir in seepage areas by releasing advanced regeneration and retaining legacy trees for seed
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
Small group selection to encourage yellow and paper birch; cut mature aspen to encourage coppice growth
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Crop tree release of sugar maple
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
Move skid trail outside of 50’ buffer around seepage area or use in frozen winter conditions only if relocation is not feasible
4.1. Prioritize and maintain unique sites.
Retain basswood and legacy sugar maples; single tree or small group selection to regenerate sugar maple & ash
3.3. Alter forest structure to reduce severity or extent of wind and ice damage.
Position gaps to limit edge exposure & retain trees on field edges to protect from prevailing winds
5.3. Retain biological legacies.
Mark legacy trees, protect course woody material and snags, leave tops following harvest


Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Percentage of basal area of tree species
Age-class diversity within stands
Presence/ absence of non-native invasive plant species
Standing and downed dead wood
Public use for non-motorized and non-mechanized recreation

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

Project Documents

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Todd or learn more at:


Upland hardwoods, Management plan, Recreation, Wildlife habitat

Last Updated

Tuesday, May 22, 2018