Volunteers Restore Habitat at Eagle Mountain

It’s a beautiful late summer day, and the forest is filled with the rhythmic buzzing of hand saws, the snip…snip…snip of tree pruners, and the unmistakable “pop” of roots and stumps launching out of the ground.  Lake Champlain Land Trust volunteers are at it again—pulling, popping, and clearing invasive trees and shrubs at Eagle Mountain Natural Area in Milton.

Over the course of three separate workdays, dozens of volunteers, including ten hard-charging employees from local design firm Stantec and members of the Milton Conservation Commission, helped restore sensitive lakeside forest habitat at this ecological hotspot.  The volunteers stepped up to remove hundreds of invasive trees and shrubs, protecting endangered plant and animal species, improving wildlife habitat, and providing a significant boost to the native species of this state-significant natural area.

The hard work performed by the volunteers will also help prevent invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle, which prefer recently disturbed areas, from invading the May 2015 brush fire zone near the summit of Eagle Mountain.  Once established, these invaders outcompete native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers for nutrients and sunlight.  Research shows that invasive species represent the second greatest threat to biological diversity.

“The hard work performed by the volunteers will help ensure that invasive species do not gain a foothold in the spring brush fire zone,” said Chris Boget, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust. “We thank the community for helping us turn this into a positive opportunity to further protect Eagle Mountain Natural Area.”

One of the largest protected natural areas in Chittenden County, Eagle Mountain Natural Area is home to spectacular displays of spring wildflowers.  With dozens of acres along the family-friendly Hoyt Lookout Trail now cleared of invasive shrubs, visitors will be able to see even larger displays of wildflowers next spring.

The Lake Champlain Land Trust has been involved in the protection and restoration of Eagle Mountain Natural Area for over 20 years.  After accepting a generous gift of land from Milton residents John and Peggy Hoyt and working with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and other supporters to purchase the adjacent property, the Lake Champlain Land Trust donated the now 226-acre community treasure to the Town of Milton in 1998.

Several volunteers commented on how they enjoyed the opportunity to get their hands dirty and witness the results of their pulling, pruning, and popping—a restored forest community along one of the most popular and scenic recreational trails in the area.

“It’s incredibly important to help our communities, as individuals and as a company,” said Rick Bryant, a senior project manager at Stantec. “Working with the Lake Champlain Land Trust is a great opportunity to help restore forest habitat and protect the beautiful environment we all are lucky enough to enjoy here in Vermont.”

Would you like to help out?  For more information about volunteering with the Lake Champlain Land Trust, visit our volunteer webpage.