Over the years that Wynn Paradee operated a dairy farm in Swanton, Vermont, he accumulated a wealth of knowledge about the people and landscape of the area. We met Wynn back in 2009 when the MRBA planted trees on his property, and stopped by the farm this spring to revisit the trees and to chat with Wynn about the results of the project.
Wynn favors a gator when it comes to showing people around the land he once farmed. Zooming over pastures covered in snow, Wynn pointed out two tree planting projects done on the land, one of which the MRBA assisted with. Both projects created a buffer for two small brooks that lead to the Missisquoi River. Though he sold the land and farm in 2014, he lives adjacent and is still in close contact with the new farmer, who has continued to allow the buffers to grow.
How Did it Work?
In 2009 the MRBA collaborated with CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) to plant 375 trees on Wynn's property. The area planted spanned both sides of route 105 where the farm is located, as well as a smaller area in the back of a pasture. CREP is part of a federally-funded program that contracts with agricultural producers so that environmentally sensitive agricultural land is not farmed or ranched, but instead used for conservation benefits.
CREP typically plants trees on places like riparian areas (stream bank). They then lease the land from farmers for 10-15 years, paying a yearly sum to the landowner. The trees planted on Wynn's property followed this format- he received a yearly payment, which has now been transferred to the new landowner.
"It All Comes Down to Economics"
Wynn's main reason for planting the trees was economic: "when they offered to rent the land for 15 years from us, at that point water quality was starting to become an issue and I (said) well, this is the time to do it.” For him, the choice made practical sense; he could get more money from the lease than he could from farming the land. The area the MRBA planted trees in was previously used to pasture cows, which required the cows to cross Route 105. This was a dangerous process with traffic, and didn't result in much grass for grazing for the trouble it was worth.
The Future of the Brook
Planting trees between the brook and field helps prevent runoff from the field from entering the water, which flows to the Missisquoi River and then Lake Champlain. Runoff from fields can carry nutrients like phosphorous, which cause pollution problems in our waters. Healthy riparian areas of trees will help this runoff for years to come. The MRBA's most successful plantings on Wynn's property border Route 105- the area in the back of the field did not grow as well. These trees bordering 105 will continue to reduce pollution for years to come, providing an income source for the new landowner.
Before: planting the trees in 2009
After: the site in 2019
This story was produced with the generous support of the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
This project was funded by an agreement LC00A00394 awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency to the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. NEIWPCC manages LCBP’s personnel, contract, grant, and budget tasks and provides input on the program’s activities through a partnership with the LCBP Steering Committee.
Although the information in this document has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection agency under agreement LC00A00394 to NEIWPCC, it has not undergone the Agency’s publications review process and therefore, may not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred. The viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily represent those of NEIWPCC, the LCBP Steering Committee, or EPA, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or causes constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.