Meet Vermont Foresters
On the Ground in the Green Mountains
Vermont’s foresters are charged with overseeing conservation and land management projects in the Green Mountains. That means they get a lot of face time with the stars of Vermont’s renowned fall foliage show, the trees, including red and sugar maples, poplars, beech, and oak. Here, a handful of foresters share their view from the woods as leaves change from green to red, orange, and yellow.
MEET FORESTER HANNAH DALLAS
How long have you been a forester? 11 years
What makes your region of Vermont forest unique from other areas of the state? Windsor County sits entirely within the Connecticut River Watershed and is the largest county by area in the state. There are several different forest types throughout the county and a beautiful mix of hardwoods and softwoods that really make the foliage pop. Mt. Ascutney is an iconic landmark in this region and a beautiful place to explore.
How is the foliage in your region right now? Route 4 between Killington and Woodstock is a beautiful drive or try any section of Route 100 for beautiful views. The red maples have beautiful color this year, and my personal favorite is the amazing purples from white ash trees.
What do you like to do in your off time in your area? I spend much of my off time with my family around our house and in the gardens. I also spend time doing a variety of arts and crafts including basket-making, pottery, and watercolor painting. I try to squeeze in a lot of short local runs, walks, hikes, and cross-county ski adventures with my young children and dogs.
Where would you recommend visitors go? Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) has an amazing canopy board walk with a view from the top and a unique perspective of the forest; it is a great spot for adults and kids and is wheelchair accessible. The Brownsville Butcher and Pantry is another lovely spot at the base of Mt. Ascutney which offers amazing local food.
MEET FORESTER ETHAN TAPPER
How long have you been a forester? 11 years
What makes your region of Vermont forest unique from other areas of the state? While most of Chittenden County remains rural, we are the most populous county in the state, containing about a quarter of its people. Development brings about challenges that pose a threat to our forests’ ability to provide habitat for our native species, to be resilient in a changing climate, and to benefit the culture, the character, the local economies and the ecology of this county. However, I also see the denser population of Chittenden County as an opportunity: here we have a chance to educate more people about the value of our forests and other ecosystems and what it means to take care of them. A lot of my work centers around education and outreach, giving people the tools to understand how to be stewards of our forests, and Chittenden County is the perfect place to do this.
How is the foliage in your region right now? In the last week of September, the trees are just beginning to change colors. We will probably see the foliage pick up steam in very early October, reaching peak foliage around mid-October. The extremely wet summer caused leaf fungi on some trees, resulting in early drop of affected leaves. This happens every year in varying degrees, but once the affected leaves drop, what is left gets to shine, especially given the good weather we’ve been having. My favorite places to see foliage are driving down Nashville Road in Jericho towards West Bolton, on Honey Hollow Road in Bolton, and from the top of Camels Hump!
What do you like to do in your off time in area? In my spare time I manage my own 175-acre forest in Bolton, Vermont with the help of my trusty Timberjack skidder, “Red”. I also play in a 10-piece punk band called The Bubs.
Where would you recommend visitors go? Go see some music and eat some amazing food in Burlington.
MEET FORESTER EMILY POTTER
County: Lamoille (plus the Caledonia County towns of Hardwick and Walden)
How long have you been a forester? Since 2012; in Lamoille County since 2020
What drew you to this career? I wanted to be able to work outdoors and spend my life working in a field that would benefit the planet. While studying forestry, I learned the humbling reality that being a forester means continuously learning and thinking in “forest time,” forest time occurs over a much longer time period; the actions we take in the forest today will resonate long after we’re gone.
What makes your region of Vermont forest unique from other areas of the state? Lamoille County is in what’s called the Northern Green Mountains biophysical region. This region of Vermont is distinguished by its upper elevation forests (including Vermont’s highest mountain, Mount Mansfield at 4,393 feet), coldest climate and greatest annual precipitation. The large undeveloped blocks of forests in Lamoille County are important corridors for wildlife dependent upon remote, unfragmented habitats and interior forest conditions.
How is the foliage in your region right now? Forests in Lamoille County are warming up to the idea that fall is around the corner. Red maples have started to show off their flashy reds and sugar maples and ash trees are hinting at their golden and purplish hues, respectively. I suggest higher elevation areas to see the first colors of fall. Heading toward Eden and Belvidere is usually a good bet for early color, as is traveling around Mount Mansfield from Cambridge and Stowe. Route 12 between Worcester and Elmore is another area worthy of a drive because of the expansive forest.
What do you like to do in your off time in the area? I enjoy running year-round, and swimming, hiking, and biking in the summer. The fall is great for cooler hikes, longer bike rides, and rounds of golf. In winter, I have a blast cross country skiing and, when winter temperatures are cold enough, ice fishing. My goal is usually just to get outside to enjoy the beauty of Vermont in all seasons; the activity isn’t as important as just being able to appreciate how lucky I am to have the privilege to live in such a gorgeous place.
Where are your favorite places to visit in your area? Paddling on the Lamoille River and at Green River Reservoir State Park; running, walking or biking on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail; going out to lunch with friends in Stowe or Morrisville; visiting one of the many Farmers’ Markets in Lamoille County; golfing at Copley Country Club or any of the other golf courses in Lamoille County; sampling Vermont beers at any of the many breweries scattered about; or generally just touring the county by car – you won’t find yourself anywhere that isn’t beautiful.