A biodiversity conservation planning project, with sub-projects

Project Summary

Through the Dummerston Biodiversity Conservation Project, the Dummerston Conservation Commission (DCC) continues to work with the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center (BEEC) to develop and implement a conservation plan and to work closely with the town planning commission on development of the Town Plan.  These plans are designed to  protect and enhance the ecological vitality of Dummerston and southeastern Vermont.

The project follows guidelines described in “Vermont’s Natural Heritage: Conserving Biological Diversity in the Green Mountain State: A Guide to Community-Based Planning for the Conservation of Vermont’s Fish, Wildlife, and Biological Diversity,” published by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and the Agency of Natural Resources,  (hereafter referred to as the Guide).  The guide explains how to:

conserve the elements of Vermont’s natural heritage through local and regional conservation planning and land stewardship;

find information on local and regional natural heritage elements (for example, significant wildlife habitat);

establish goals and strategies for protecting and conserving these elements; and

understand the natural heritage elements within a town or community and their regional significance to the surrounding landscape.”

The Natural Communities of Vermont are described and defined in “Wetland, Woodland, Wildland” by Eric Sorenson and Liz Thompson. The following is a list of natural communities that we have identified in Dummerston:

Biodiversity Inventory Reports

Each link below offers a pdf download

The plan that we develop as a result of this project will establish conservation goals for the natural heritage elements outlined in the Guide. These elements are:

Community Level Elements

Natural Communities, Wetlands, Riparian Habitats, and Vernal Pools Natural communities are the suite of plants and animals that can predictably be found together in certain environmental conditions. A River Cobble Shore community, for example, is likely to support similar plants and animals wherever it occurs along the West River. You would not visit such a community if you were looking for a scarlet tanager or a lady’s slipper. By mapping the natural communities of Dummerston, we hope to be able to ensure that viable representatives of all community types are included in conserved or stewarded lands. This is a “coarse filter” approach to conservation. We hope that by conserving all types of habitat, that most species will also be conserved. This Natural Communities Level separates wetlands, riparian habitats, and vernal pools from natural communities in general. They are so important for wildlife that they need separate consideration.


Wetlands are those biologically rich zones that occur between upland habitat and aquatic zones. Many plants and animals flourish in these moist conditions. Other species take advantage of these lush lands. Bobcats and bears often feed in wetlands. Many of our terrestrial amphibians need wetlands as breeding habitat. Like the rest of the Southern Vermont Piedmont (our geophysical region) Dummerston has relatively few wetlands.  Many of them are included on a new map of Dummerston.

Beavers once created and maintained many wetlands in this region. They were trapped out long before the first colonists settled here. A few beavers have returned to the area since, but now their activies conflict with human uses of the land so they have not proliferated. The conservation commission hopes that one day there will be more beaver wetlands in Dummerston, and would be happy to work with landowners to make this possible.

Among the interesting wetlands of Dummerston is a Red Maple-Black Ash Swamp.

Riparian Areas

With the Connecticut River forming our eastern boundary and the West River slicing through the town, Dummerston is blessed with an abundance of riparian habitat. The plants and animals that are found in such habitat have adapted to survive flooding and ice scouring, and in return are rewarded with an abundance of sunlight, moisture, and, in some places, regular deposits of rich silts. When riparian ecosystems are intact, they reduce flooding and erosion and protect the habitat of the aquatic species living in the rivers.

Once majestic floodplain forests of elm, sycamore and silver maple grew along the rivers. These areas have been replaced by agricultural lands.

The following unidentified amphibian (probably a green frog) was found in an abandoned beaver pond.

Guided by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife’s manual, “Conserving Vermont’s Natural Heritage”, A Guide to Community-based Planning for the Conservation of Vermont’s Fish, Wildlife, and Biological Diversity,” we are working to develop a conservation plan. After analyzing existing information about the town’s resources, the commission is developing goals for each element of the conservation plan. Over the next six months commission members will inventory the elements in town and develop a conservation plan that will enhance the long-term well being of the nature of Dummerston. The finished plan will guide future conservation commission activities as we work with interested landowners to implement the conservation plan and assess its success.