New Forest Fragmentation Town Plan Requirement

For help, read Act 171 and Planning in Vermont

Step 1

Identify the best forest conservation areas in town based on the conservation biology data through BIOFINDER.

Step 2

Then towns can write up a little description of each area and why it is special.  This is where towns could get local forester input (optional but fun and informative).  Talk about each area in the Natural Resources Chapter

Step 3

The towns should outline how these areas should be developed in the Future Land Use Chapter.  See the sample goals, policies and recommendations below.


Towns should include conservation areas on their future land use map.  Towns can also include more detailed mapping of forest and other conservation areas with connectivity information and arrows on a natural resources map. 

In sum,

  • Describe areas in the forest chapter.  This isn’t too hard and should be fun.
  • Decide how they should be developed in the land use chapter.
  • Towns reference them on the future land use map or can add a map with the areas outlined and the forest block/connector data.

Towns can add the following GPR (sample):


  1. To reduce the fragmentation of forestlands from scattered low-density development.
  2. To maintain or improve the natural diversity, population, and migratory routes of wildlife through the conservation of forest blocks and habitat connectors.
  3. To allow sport and subsistence hunting of ecologically sound intensities to provide continued success of the species.
  4. To promote the use of forestlands as part of the working landscape in order to sustain the local forest products economy
  5. To provide the community with access to quality forestland for recreational use.


  1. Long-term protection of forest blocks and habitat connectors through conservation easements, land purchases, leases and other incentives is encouraged.
  2. New developments shall take reasonable steps to avoid disruption or loss of major identified forest conservation areas.  Fragmentation of wildlife habitat is discouraged.
  3. Preference shall be given to development that utilizes existing roads and field lines.  The construction of utilities, roads, or other physical modifications in the priority areas identified in this plan as important forest blocks and habitat connectors is incompatible with this plan. 
  4. Subdivisions and other development on large lots shall minimize impacts on forestry potential and habitat values of undeveloped areas by concentrating development at the forest edge near other development and roads; shall use small lot sizes and shapes so that most of the remaining land is in a large undeveloped tract; shall minimize clearing forest; and shall avoid the creation of additional roads or power lines that would further future development into interior areas. 


  1. Encourage owners of necessary habitat for threatened species (see Appendix B, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, for listing of current threatened and endangered species of plants and animals) to contact the State for assistance in developing a management plan for these sites.
  2. Encourage forest landowners to contact local foresters to help manage their land
  3. Support the county forester and conservation commission outreach to local forester landowners




  • Amends the goals for municipal and regional planning to encourage management of forestlands improve forest blocks and habitat connectors and encourage the use of locally-grown forest products.


  • Adds new definitions to the municipal and regional planning chapter:

“Forest block” means a contiguous area of forest in any stage of succession, not currently developed for nonforest use. May include recreational trails, wetlands, and agricultural and silvicultural uses currently exempt from municipal land use regulation. 

“Habitat connector” means land or water that links wildlife habitat within a landscape, allowing the movement and migration of animals and plants and the functioning of ecological processes. May include recreational trails and agricultural and silvicultural uses currently exempt from municipal land use regulation.

“Forest fragmentation” means the division or conversion of a forest block by land development other than by a recreational trail or use exempt from municipal land use regulation.

“Recreational trail” means an unpaved corridor used for hiking, walking, snowmobiling, ATV riding, horse riding, and other similar recreational activity.