Vermont receives $497,000 to study, control invasive species & fund ‘park interpreter’ program

Posted: December 4, 2009

WATERBURY – Governor Jim Douglas today announced that the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation was awarded nearly a half-million dollars of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds from the U.S. Forest Service to control invasive insects and plants and provide conservation education programs in state parks and recreation areas within the Green Mountain National Forest.

 The 16-month project will allow state officials to control the spread of invasive plants and insects on state and National Forest Service lands, by conducting pest surveys, limiting firewood movement and enhancing native species recovery for ash, butternut and chestnut.
 
“Vermont’s forests are valuable economically, ecologically and socially,” said Commissioner Jason Gibbs. “A major thrust of maintaining forest health in Vermont is detecting, eliminating or managing newly introduced pests.”
 
The funds will also allow the Department to hire and train seasonal “park interpreters” – restoring the popular conservation education program in Vermont’s State Parks and expanding it to recreation areas within the Green Mountain National Forest. 
 
Park interpreters educate visitors, and local community members, on important firewood policies, invasive insect and plant pest issues.  They also coordinate other conservation education program activities, like nature walks and children’s programming, that enhance the park experience. 
 
“Use of park interpreters improves public information regarding important forest health issues and other conservation priorities on both state and federal lands,” Gibbs added.  “The fun, family-centered programming is a community asset and also significantly enhances the experience of our visitors.  We are very grateful our federal partners have recognized the value of this program.”