2019 FNEP Symposium

May 18 – 19
Highland Lodge, Greensboro VT
Registration Open! Register by April 1st for guaranteed lodging

What better way to spend a beautiful May weekend than botanizing, birding, and connecting with your Field Naturalist family in the heart of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom? We’ll share tales of conservation success while admiring the return of our neotropical migrants. We’ll wrestle with current challenges in wildland management while enjoying those early-season Carex. And we’ll hear stories of adventure from the field while sharing good meals and great company.

(3/31 update)
Presenters, Discussion Topics, and Field Trips!

**Many more sessions and field trips are in the works, and we are still accepting proposals! Please pitch your ideas on the event registration form**

“The question that keeps me up at night”
Problem-solving discussions

Socially-Just Conservation – Lauren Sopher
Our conservation efforts do not reach all populations in Vermont. We need to find ethical and effective ways to address this issue. We’ll discuss best practices for integrating this type of work into our projects. This round-table discussion will have a follow-up field walk through Greensboro Bend! Guiding questions: How can we integrate marginalized populations into Vermont’s progressive conservation agenda? How can we consistently integrate social analyses into conservation projects of all types and scales?

Impacts of Outdoor Recreation – Shelby Perry
What are the long term implications of the decisions we are making today about outdoor recreation access to our natural lands? How can we strike a thoughtful balance between both protecting our natural resources and encouraging recreation as a means to access and experience the natural world? Do all lands need to be opened to humans, or are there instances where we should designate land solely for non-human life to thrive?

“Hot Topics”
Rapid-fire presentations on current alumni projects

Dune Restoration for Shorebirds on Cape Cod – Lyra Brennan
“Dead Neck Sampson’s Island, off the coast of Cape Cod, faces a variety of challenges– sediment starvation resulting from man-made structures, rising tides, and erosion from increased storm frequency. This island also happens to be a key breeding ground for multiple threatened shorebird species like Piping Plover and Least Tern. In November 2018, Mass Audubon and the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition initiated a 3-year restoration project to restore nesting habitat and remediate extensive erosion.”

The Wide World of Restoration Genetics – Tate Bushell
Ecological restoration is a big part of many land stewardship programs.  Practitioners of all stripes – NGO’s, contractors, universities and governments – restore habitats by planting native plants or sowing native seed, but where is the plant material coming from? Do the genetics of this material matter?  I’ll review the highlights of my recent slog through the literature on this topic. Don’t worry – its not too heavy on genetics.

Searching for Arnica: a story of cliffs, climbing, and Smugglers’ Notch – Bob Zaino
A century-old pressed plant specimen draws me, as an ecologist and climber, to Smugglers’ Notch. This steep-walled mountain pass should be ideal habitat for arnica: Groundwater seeps out of the forests and cliffs. Wet, craggy, subalpine habitat abounds. Surely, the plant must be there. So I look…

Indiginous culture meets modern resource mangagement
Maria Dunlavey, Conservation Outdoor Coordinator, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

For nearly a century, members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have been barred from traditional gathering activities in the national park land adjoining their reservation. This spring, that changed. I’ll introduce you to sochan (Rudbeckia laciniata), the subject of the first ever formal gathering agreement between the park and the tribe — and to the story it tells about reintegrating culture with modern resource management.

The Status of UVM’s Natural History Collection
Sonia DeYoung, Curatorial Assistant, UVM Natural History Museum

The 2017 fire in Torrey Hall forced the UVM natural history collections out of their historic home. Now, we have the unprecedented opportunity to redesign Torrey Hall as a modern, public natural history museum. This talk will address the origins and significance of our 700,000 specimens, where we we are now in the museum project, and where we want to go

Emerald Ash Borer management and mitigation in VT
Allaire Diamond, Ecologist, Vermont Land Trust
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) arrived in Vermont in 2018, continuing a 16+ year path of destruction that threatens all North American ash species. What lessons can our conservation and forestry communities take from other states that have experienced EAB for many years? Vermont Land Trust is establishing ash monitoring plots that may help identify resistant trees, working closely with landowners to apply emerging research to their forest management plans, and partnering with others to document and celebrate ash while it’s still part of our landscape.

Field Walks

Ecological Restoration and Conservation Management at Burnt Mountain
Gus Goodwin 
– Conservation Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy
TNC staff will lead a tour of Calavale Brook at Burnt Mountain, TNC’s newest and largest natural area.  In keeping with the theme of this year’s FNEP symposium, we’ll explore how we’re managing the property to jumpstart important ecological processes, build resilience, and minimize the impacts of prior management.  The primary focus of the tour will be on the role of instream wood and how TNC is using strategic wood additions to restore Calavale Brook, but we’ll also make time to examine an upcoming road decommissioning project and scout out some great summer-time swimming holes.

Botanical Illustration
Susan Sawyer 
– Artist/Naturalist, South Woodbury
Susan is an artist-naturalist from South Woodbury, and has been a freelance artist and teacher for over 30 years. Her particular interests include plants, insects, and all kinds of wet places – vernal pools, fens, bogs, and beaver meadows – and making art that reflects her love of nature. She’s insatiably curious, loves a puzzle, thinks observation and imagination are the beginning of both science and art, and believes in having lots of fun while learning about the natural world. Susan will lead a natural history sketching workshop at Highland Lodge during one of our field walk sessions.

Wood Turtle Habitat Identification and Management
Kiley Briggs
 – Turtle Conservation Coordinator – Orianne Society
Wood Turtles overwinter in streams, but regularly forage over 1000 feet from water, especially in floodplains. The floodplains on which the species depends, however, are heavily utilized for agriculture, and the streams the turtles frequently return to are often bordered by roads, resulting in high levels of mortality and widespread population decline. Join local herpetologist, Kiley Briggs, to visit a nearby Wood Turtle population and learn how to identify and manage habitat for the species. Finding a Wood Turtle or two is a high likelihood on this trip, but the species is extremely secretive, so it is not a guarantee. The trip entails walking across and along a shallow stream, so plan on getting your feet wet at least up to the shins.

Headwater Wetlands of the Green Mountain State
Bob Zaino & Hannah Phillips – VT Fish & Wildlife ; VT Housing & Conservation Board 
Tucked into the folds and flanks of our green mountains is a patchwork of forgotten wetlands. Expansive swaths of fragile, mucky soils perch on gradual hillsides, inundated by seeping groundwater. These early-to-green wetlands are wildlife hotspots, form the headwaters of our largest rivers, and are seldom visited by humans, save for the lone forester or rambling hiker. Join us for an exploration of a Seepage Forest natural community in Steam Mill Brook Wildlife Management Area. Muckboots strongly recommended!


The Theme

We are trained to interpret landscape disturbances that are decades, centuries, or millennia in the making. This year, we’ll apply our FNEP training to confront the accelerating pressures of environmental degradation by examining disturbance on a more current timescale:

“Modern forces shaping the land: observation to action”

The Schedule

**Still accepting additional proposals for presentations, discussion topics, and field walks. Please pitch your ideas on the event registration form**

Saturday, May 18

Gathering, Orientations, & Introductions | 10 am – 11 am
Keynote: Cedric Alexander | 11 – noon
Lunch (included in conference registration fee) | noon
“The question that keeps me up at night” – problem-solving discussions | 1 – 2:30
Field Walks!* | 2:30 – 6 pm
Dinner (included in conference registration fee) | 6 pm
“Adventures From the Field” – A Moth-style storytelling evening* | 7 – 8:30 pm

Sunday May 19

Morning Bird Walks | 6 – 9 am
“Caffeinated Networking” coffee hour | 9 – 10 am
“Hot Topics” – rapid-fire presentations on current alumni projects | 10 – noon
Lunch (included in conference registration fee) | noon
“Last Words” – concluding discussions on our theme | 12:45 – 1:30 pm
Field Walks! | 1:30 – 5 pm
Departures | 5 pm

Registration and Lodging

Registration Fees: Registration fees cover Saturday and Sunday activities, including Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner, and Sunday lunch. Breakfasts are included with lodging. Lodging is an additional cost.

FNEP Alumni Association members*: $75

Non-members: $105

One-day registration fee: $50

*Not a member yet? You can become a member here. If you have ever paid membership dues, you are considered a current member.

Lodging: Highland Lodge has many different lodging options, including individual rooms, shared cabins, and camping, and are available for a range of prices. You will inform us of your lodging preferences on our registration form, and Highland Lodge will bill you directly in mid-May.

Please note: Highland Lodge has a variety of rooms and cabins, each with a slightly different style, occupancy, and price. We are providing you a simplified set of lodging options, including the range of prices for each option. Unless you request otherwise, we will arrange for you the most economical rate that is available for the option you have selected.


Registration Deadline

Register by March 31st for guaranteed lodging.
After April 1st, lodging available only on a first-come, first-served basis.
Otherwise, please register by May 1st