The Ashley Community Forest

The Ashley Community Forest is a 256.4 acre property that was donated to the Towns of Sharon and Strafford in January 2022 by the Alliance for Vermont Communities.  It is accessed via Nutting Road in Strafford and is intended to be an open space asset for the two towns.  The day-to-day oversight of the property will be through a 5-person management board with two representatives appointed by the Strafford Selectboard, two representatives appointed by the Sharon Selectboard and one independent member selected by the four appointed members.  The board is expected to meet monthly during the first year and is required to meet at least quarterly.  As an official town board, the meetings will be open to the public, minutes published, and finances tracked with the town treasurers.

Coming up:

The Ashley Community Forest has several areas with serious invasive plant infestations that threaten the forest and biodiversity, including extensive areas of barberry. If volunteers can successfully pull barberry starting this spring and summer, we can avoid use of herbicides in the forest! David Paganelli is willing to direct a volunteer effort at manual invasive plant control. Below is the information you need to know:

  • Saturdays:   4/22, 5/20, 6/17, 7/22, 8/26, 9AM – 2PM*
  • Bring your own lunch and water.
  • Please let Susan Hodges know if you are planning to participate and which dates.
Information from David:
  • Meet at 9 AM at the Nutting Road parking area [Google “Nutting Road VT” for a map location] and walk in to our treatment areas from there. [David will direct us.]
  • Everyone should have long sleeves, long pants and work gloves that can withstand thorns. Also, light colored clothing, ideally with no pattern is best, so that we can readily see ticks that may be on anybody. Tick-gaiters and repellent are recommended. Hats are recommended, as the hatband reduces ticks getting up into our hair where they are harder to find. Most of the barberry plants we find will be pullable with just our muscle. Some will require more leverage and I find that a long-handled, pointed shovel works well for that. Not everyone needs to bring a shovel, but we should have 2-3 shovels per 10-person team. A hoe might also come in handy. We can hang the plants we pull in forks of trees or make a pile of them. No danger of spread from these plants even if we leave them scattered on the ground, as they are unlikely to re-sprout, and the seeds they produced last year are already spread. The key is that we want to put them in a place where their roots will desiccate.
  • If it looks like we will have more than 10-15 folks, we can break into two teams and work separately, but nearby.
  • The future of this forest as a functioning ecosystem is absolutely dependent upon maintaining native plant populations, that provide the habitat for all the creatures great and small that live in this forest. We simply cannot allow the forest to be overrun by invasive plants. I am excited to work with all of you on this project.