Interacting with the Natural Community
The Winooski Valley Park District collaborates with local ecologists, students, and colleges, in its effort to inventory and maintain the ecological quality of its natural areas. With the exception of trail construction and maintenance, invasive species removal, agricultural uses, and tree planting and removal, the Park District manages its natural areas with a hands-off approach. The Park District believes that this should allow nature to run its course to develop natural communities and ecosystems that are based upon the land and climate and support a high diversity of native plant and animal species. Allowing the parks to evolve into their natural states will offer visitors an opportunity to view ecological succession at work.
Enjoying the Natural Landscape
Visitors will find a wide range of natural landscapes unique to each park and Vermont. If a pastoral setting is what you are seeking, try hiking the trails near the hay fields of the Ethan Allen Homestead or Colchester Pond Natural Area; both parks also feature forested areas as well. To spot spring wildflowers such as trillium, bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit, trout lily, and hepatica, try Colchester Pond, Muddy Brook or Old Mill Park. For sweeping views of the Winooski River
A troublesome problem for much of Vermont’s landscape, invasive plant species have become established at some of the Park District’s natural areas. Non-native to this area, these plants are able to dominate their new environment due to the lack of natural predators and climactic controls that keep them from exploiting their native habitat. When established in Vermont, the invasive plants overcrowd a site and create monocultures by out-competing native vegetation for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Invasive plant monocultures create a foreign habitat for animals, adversely impacting nesting and foraging of birds and mammal.
In order to preserve the native habitats that are enjoyed in Vermont and a keystone of the Park District’s mission, a great stewardship effort is needed. The Park District continually seeks volunteers to help with invasive plant removal. Please see the stewardship page for more information regarding contributing to the Park District’s removal efforts as a volunteer.
The WVPD is currently working on developing managements for controlling invasive plants at several parks. Stay tuned for more details and information.