Picture this: It’s past 10pm and Peggy is outside in her rainboots, a bright yellow raincoat, and some reflective gear. She has a bucket on her arm, a flashlight in one hand, and a big spotted salamander in her other hand. It’s cold and raining and way past her bedtime but dozens of these local amphibians need her help! Yep, It’s salamander migration season! For the past 15 years Peggy has been helping these Spot-tacular salamanders make it across busy roads towards the vernal pools they use for breeding. With the help of great organizations like BEEC, we’ve saved hundreds of salamanders from being run over by cars (and depending on the amount of traffic, this can result in huge dents in the salamander population)!
Our forests are so much more than just trees. When Peggy started Vermont Woods Studios in 2005, she was inspired to help save disappearing animal habitats by promoting sustainable forestry. Did you know that almost every species of large primate & big cat are endangered? While these salamanders aren’t endangered (at least not yet), we want to make sure it stays that way! These salamanders have been following the same migration patterns for hundreds of years, way before roads and cars and all of the man-made things that put them in danger. On nights where we might have missed them crossing, there is evidence left on the roads of the threat to the survival of these crawly creatures that cars pose.
The least we can do is help these slow movers make it to where they’re headed.
After the salamanders have crossed and made it to the vernal pools, we visit them to see how many egg clusters we can find. This helps us keep track of the success of the salamanders each year and assures us that our efforts are making a difference!
All in all, we take care and keep track of the success of the salamander migration because we care about our environment– even the smallest parts! If you’re interested in learning more about helping salamanders, check out the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center website.
Have you ever wondered why Vermont is so clean, green and pristine? Well one reason is that since 1970, thousands of Vermonters have gotten outside on the first Saturday of May to collect tons of litter that would otherwise mar our state’s scenic beauty. The goal of “Green Up Day” is to “promote the stewardship of our state’s natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by involving people and raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment”. So tomorrow May 3, volunteers will scour 13,000 miles of roads and collect 40,000 bags of trash.
Have you participated in Green Up day before? If not, how about giving it a try? Get your muck boots on and head outside for some fresh air, sunshine and the good feeling that comes from serving your community. Find out who’s coordinating Green Up day in your community here. They’ll have trash bags for you but more importantly they’ll probably throw a pizza party for all the local volunteers after the work is done.
Our Green Up efforts at Vermont Woods Studios took place yesterday as staff members had other obligations this weekend. Here are some photos of the work we did cleaning up the Vernon Pond and the Vernon Beach (bet you didn’t know we had a beach, did you?).
Please share your own Green Up Day photos with us on Facebook.
Earth Day Gives us the Opportunity to Reflect on our Environmental Impact
Each & Every one of us at Vermont Woods Studios works here for a reason; we are passionate about Vermont furniture and we are passionate about keeping our forests thriving. We love the outdoors, and we love the environment. Earth day is very special to us, and this year we’ve decided to each make a pledge towards making our everyday lives more eco-friendly. It’s easy to forget about the impact of even the smallest choices we make sometimes, and we’re excited to be more environmentally conscious this year.
This Earth Day, I pledge to….
Peggy: I pledge to buy more organic and bird friendly coffee for the office.
Douglas: I pledge to stop using plastic water bottles. My daughter and I use 20+ a week when working out– we’re both going to start using large glass mason jars instead!
Dennis: I pledge to maintain the bird houses I just built and put up around my house.
Liz: My pledge is to create a compost bin and start composting at my cabin, as I’ve been wanting to for a long time!
Sean: My pledge is to buy less clothes this year and to donate all of my old or unwanted clothes to charity!
Michelle: I pledge to eat more food from my own garden this year.
Loryn: I pledge to drive less since I will be buying a bike soon!
Kelsey: I pledge to grow monarch-friendly plants outside of my apartment.
Nina: My pledge is to collect rainwater and use that to water my garden, rather than wasting water from the faucet!
So what’s your Earth Day pledge? Remember that even a small change in your lifestyle can make a huge difference in our planet! We’d love to hear what you’re eco-change is going to be this year. Let us know on Facebook or send us a Tweet!
Come join us at the Salamander Soiree tonight, April 5th from 6-8:30pm at the River Garden on Main Street in Brattleboro VT. A number of animal lovers from Vermont Woods Studios will be attending the annual party sponsored by our friends at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC. We’ll be helping to recruit and train crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration. Why not join us?
Tom Tyning, author of the Stokes Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles will be speaking about his research projects on vernal pools, rare salamanders, endangered snakes, and spade foot toads. Tom is always lively, informative, and funny. Other festivities include: hors d’oeuvres, live music and the famous Salamander Crossing Guard Fashion Show. Bring your iphone or ipad and you can install BEEC’s new Salamander Crossing app. Best of all, it’s free!
For a little background on why a fine furniture company would be so dedicated to protecting frogs, toads and salamanders, here’s a look back at previous amphibian-related posts:
Ken and I founded Vermont Woods Studios fine furniture store almost nine years ago. As a woodworker, Ken’s interest was in earning a living by promoting the tradition of high quality Vermont made wood furniture. For me, the project was about forest conservation and my desire to help protect forest habitat and wildlife for future generations*. Over the years it’s been a challenge managing this yin-yang pair of objectives but I think we’ve been able to maintain a pretty good balance.
Stonehurst Opens Up New Opportunities for Forest Conservation
This year we have a chance to bring a whole new dimension to our forest conservation mission through our newly acquired property at Stonehurst. The farmhouse we purchased and renovated into a Vermont made furniture gallery sits on 100 wooded acres in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest. In the past our environmental mission was largely fulfilled by donating to like-minded non-profits**, but now we can also also partner with them by providing forest habitat for various conservation projects.
Below are a few conservation activities we’re supporting for 2014:
Woodlands for Wildlife – Vermont Coverts educates landowners in sound forest management practices and the principles of stewardship for the enhancement of wildlife. Ken and I are attending their 3-day seminar on forest and wildlife management this spring to learn how to improve wildlife habitat and provide better conditions for native deer, turkeys, moose, bear, birds, bob cats, chipmunks, squirrels and other species that may be living at Stonehurst.
MonarchWatch - When Kendall and Riley were in elementary school we used to capture monarch caterpillars, watch their metamorphosis and tag the butterflies before waving them off on their epic migration to Mexico every fall. But for the past several years I haven’t seen even a single monarch. So this year we’ll support Chip Taylor at MonarchWatch by planting butterfly gardens (including milkweed) and encouraging others to do the same.
Vermont Center for Eco Studies- VCE is a group of Vermont’s foremost conservation scientists who inspire citizen volunteers across Vermont and around the world. We’ve been supporting them for years and are excited about being able to use Stonehurst as a place to gather data for their many programs including:
Vernal pool mapping
VT reptile and amphibian atlas
VT breeding bird survey
Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center – BEEC’s annual Salamander Soiree is this Saturday April 5th from 6-8:30pm in Brattleboro at the River Garden on Main Street. We’ll be there to help recruit crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration.
If you’re in our neighborhood and share similar interests, please stop by Stonehurst, give us a call or connect with us on Facebook. Let us know what you’re working on and how we can help. As the southern most corner of Vermont, Vernon can play a significant role in our state’s conservation efforts. Let’s make it happen!
* We are losing the worlds forests at a rate of > 1 acre/second. A major factor in deforestation is widespread illegal logging for timber that’s used to make cheap furniture sold by IKEA, Home Depot and other big-box stores. Our goal at Vermont Woods Studios is to help raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to buy sustainable furniture made from legally harvested wood.
** The non-profits we’ve supported include the World Wildlife Fund WWF, The Nature Conservancy TNC, Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC, Vermont Center for Ecostudies VCE and others working to conserve forests and wildlife.