Kieslich Park

Walk in Burlington’s new park at 311 North Ave and you might ask yourself: what are all those wispy shoots coming out of green plastic tubes? They are a bold restoration project! Designated as an Urban Wild, the park’s sandy soils (remnants of an ancient river delta) suggest it once held a rare sandplain forest natural community.  Much of the new park’s original sandy bluffs were likely pulled off to fill in and create the industrial area which is now Burlington’s Urban Reserve. The current forest is mostly non-native black locust trees.  Extensive plantings of native trees and shrubs are an experiment in restoration of Vermont’s rare pine-oak-heath sandplain natural community. The plantings and habitat restoration were a partnership between Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront and a UVM Restoration Ecology course taught by professor Bill Keeton. Students helped design a restoration plan for the site which included planting of 700 trees as well as as some “soft engineering,” in the form of laying coarse woody debris on steep slopes to prevent soil erosion. Additionally, the American Chestnut Foundation donated seedlings of blight-resistant American Chestnut hybrids to be included in the plantings. The American chestnut was a prevalent tree species in forests of the Champlain Valley until it was almost extirpated by a blight in the early 1900’s. The extensive tree plantings are also a notable step towards Burlington’s Climate Action goal of 50% canopy cover in the city by 2025.

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