Recent events

Fall Tree Planting
Summer Research

Clayplain Conference
Wildflowers and Spring Ecology


Fall Tree Planting                    top

The Cornwall 6th Grade class, with teacher Andrew Hirsch, joined Marc Lapin near Dead Creek in October to plant native clayplain forest trees.  Thanks to the help of this enthusiastic crew, hundreds of swamp white oak and white pine seedlings are now becoming established in a successional field.  This land, which was once clayplain forest, will be home to towering trees again someday.

The class watches as one student 
sets a stake that will support a 
tree seedling.

A white pine seedling is ready 
to be planted.

After planting, a protective 
plastic tube encircles the seedling 
and is attached to the post.


Summer Research      top

 2000 H.Karlson

The Champlain Valley Clayplain Forest Project gathers information about plants, wildlife, and soils in many of the remaining tracts of clayplain forest. This data helps explain the dynamics of the complex clayplain forest ecosystem and provides information for future conservation and restoration decisions.

 2000 H.Karlson

 2000 H.Karlson
Tii McLane (upper photo) and Marc Lapin inventory plants in a 1 meter square area within the sample plot.

 2000 H.Karlson

Healthy clay soils often show mottling, a brownish color created by the presence of iron,  in the upper layers.


  2000 H.Karlson

Core samples are taken from a few trees in the plot to determine the ages and growth rates.



 Clayplain Forest Conference      top
Addison, Vermont -- More than seventy people gathered at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area on a blustery April day to attend the first Vermont conference on clayplain forests. Familiar to many by sight if not by name, the small parcels of oaks and hickories amidst agricultural fields in much of Addison County represent a type of forest that dominated the Champlain Valley before European settlement.

Swamp white oak  2000 H.Karlson
2000 Heather Karlson

Swamp white oak of the clayplain forest near Dead Creek

Landowners, residents, ecologists, foresters, biologists, and others spent the day on April 5, 2000 learning about the characteristics of clayplain forests and the many related projects currently underway at the state and local levels. In the afternoon, the group braved the chilly April wind to explore several examples of clayplain forest firsthand.

In addition to shagbark hickory, white oak, bur oak, and swamp white oak, clayplain forests are home to a wide array of other trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, and animals. Because the clay soils hold nutrients needed for survival by many plants, the clayplain forest supports a larger number of species than most other forest types in the state. Due to the high quality agricultural soils and because of the flat terrain, most of the clayplain forest was cleared long ago for farming.

Presenters at the conference discussed the economic importance of the clay soils to agriculture, as well as the biological importance of restoring and maintaining areas of healthy clayplain forest for wildlife and native plants. Many attendees expressed an interest in preserving areas of clayplain forest for the long-term health of the Champlain Valley. Bill Crenshaw, district wildlife biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and 25 years experience at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, showed two examples of clayplain forest tracts that were formerly pastured and are now regenerating healthy understory growth.  

Marc Lapin, right, and others at the clayplain conference  2000 H.Karlson
2000 Heather Karlson

Ecologist Marc Lapin, right,
discusses clayplain forests with conference attendees


Wildflowers and Ecology of the Clayplain  Forest        top

The April conference provided a first step for people interested in the clayplain forest of the Champlain Valley to share ideas. In early May, ecologist Marc Lapin of the Champlain Valley Clayplain Forest Project led a natural history walk in the clayplain forest, which was sponsored by Otter Creek Audubon Society, the Champlain Valley Clayplain Forest Project, and the Middlebury Area Land Trust.

More than 30 community members enjoyed the early spring wildflowers, birds, and budding trees. Visit Otter Creek Audubon Society's programs page for pictures of the walk.


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The Champlain Valley Clayplain Forest Project is sponsored by:
South Lake Champlain Trust
The Sustainable Future Fund
Lake Champlain Basin Program

Other supporting organizations include:

Page last updated: November 05, 2001

All photographs Copyright 1999 - 2002 Heather Karlson. All rights reserved - reproduction prohibited.
Web design by Heather Karlson.