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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Guided Walk to Vernon's Black Gum Swamps


A trio of experts will lead a guided walk to visit one or more the Black Gum Swamps in Vernon’s J. Maynard Miller Town Forest on Friday, April 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

This is an opportunity for people who may never have visited the Black Gum Swamps to see them, and for anyone interested to gain a better understanding of their ecological uniqueness and their value to the town and the region.

Leading this excursion will be:

  • William C. “Bill” Guenther, Windham County Forester with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation
  • Laura Lapierre, Wetlands Program Director, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Bob Zaino, State Lands Ecologist, Barre Office. Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dep’t, Wildlife Division

On the hike, these three experts will tell participants about this relatively unknown natural treasure. Some of the black gum trees (Nyssa sylvatica) are more than 400 years old. This is the only place in Vermont this species of tree can be found. Typically the black gum is found south of the Mason-Dixon line, where it is known as the tupelo or black tupelo. One black gum tree in the Vernon forest was measured, some years ago, to be 435 years old. At another location in southern New Hampshire, a black gum was found to be 562 years old. These trees are not only among the oldest trees in New England, but they may be the oldest broadleaf deciduous trees in North America. 

Because of the presence of these trees, the DEC has proposed to designate the swamps as Class I wetlands (they are now Class II) in order to provide greater protection to these natural areas. 

Laura Lapierre of the DEC will hold a public meeting on May 8 at 6 p.m. at the Vernon Town Office Building (lower level). This meeting will be an opportunity to learn more about what Class I status entails and to address concerns and questions the town of Vernon may have.

Directions: from Pond Road, turn up Huckle Hill Road, then right onto Basin Road. At the end of Basin Road, park in the roundabout; the tour will depart from there. The nearest swamp is about a quarter mile away and entails a climb of about 175 feet over that distance. The tour may proceed to other swamps but it would be possible to head back from the first one, which is known as the “High” swamp. Bring appropriate footgear and a bottle of water.

For additional information or if you have questions, contact Martin Langeveld, newsafternewspapers@gmail.com or 802-380-0226.

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