Sustainable Williston plants trees!

Sustainable Williston volunteers recently planted 20 bare root trees (sycamore, silver and sugar maple, hackberry, and elm) donated from 350VT. The Town of Williston suggested a parcel of land along the Allen Brook across from the fire station. This area has beaver activity and was in need of help. It is also private land that belongs to a condo development. Chapin first scouted the area and then received permission for the planting. All hands were needed to plant the trees in heavy clay soil.

Next steps include making a sign to place near the trees explaining the project. We will need to watch for dry spells and water trees as needed. Weeding around the trees a couple of times this season will help with crowding. In 5 years, we should remove hardware cloth. We will continue to work with the town to designate a place for more planting, form an energy committee, and hire an energy coordinator

So glad we could pull this off! Thanks everyone!

Cheers to carbon sequestration, soil erosion prevention, wildlife habitat enhancement, run-off reduction for Allen Brook protection, and climate change mitigation.

Support an Energy Coordinator position in next year’s Budget

Thank you for signing Sustainable Williston’s letter in support of the Energy Plan this summer. In case you missed the good news, it was adopted — and you helped make that happen! We know that hearing from Williston residents makes a difference to the Selectboard.

Now we need your help again! The Town is now going through its budget setting process for the upcoming fiscal year but hasn’t allocated any funding to hiring an Energy Coordinator, a key element of advancing the Energy Plan’s goals (here’s a one-page summary if you need a reminder!). If this position isn’t funded it’s unlikely that our town will make much progress on our goals and believe it or not Vermont is already well behind other New England states in meeting key energy targets (source). That’s why we need town-level leadership!

The Selectboard may say that we can’t afford the position, but Sustainable Williston believes we can’t afford not to fund it! Climate change won’t wait patiently.

We’re asking you to write a quick email urging funding for an Energy Coordinator to be included in next year’s budget. Below is an email template you can use or adapt. Finding the exact right words is much less important than just writing something that allows your voice to be heard by Williston decision-makers.

Below are some VIP follow up items that apply to EVERYONE regarding requesting funding be allocated to hiring an Energy Coordinator:
1- write an email to Selectboard before Dec 25.
2- plan to comment at Budget Public Hearing Jan 5 (Zoom info will get posted here in early Jan)
3- come to our prep meeting Jan 4 at 7:15pm to craft and practice your statement together (Google Meet link)
4- get your friends to do the same!

Thanks in advance for your support. We’re grateful for you all.

Your neighbors of Sustainable Williston


Subject: Please Fund A Town Energy Coordinator Position

Dear Erik Wells, Williston Selectboard, and Williston Planning Commission,

Thank you for adopting the Energy Plan addendum to the Williston Town Plan. I strongly support our town taking a leadership role in Vermont’s elimination of our reliance on fossil fuels and transition to fully renewable resources. I like how the energy plan attempts to do this with various pathways- transportation and land use, building energy usage, recycling and consumption, renewable energy generation, and agriculture.

The Energy Plan outlines specific goals for the town to achieve. The first and second recommendations are to hire an Energy Coordinator and to establish an Energy Committee. Together, they will “monitor the energy plan pathways to assess progress made against the plan’s stated benchmarks, and make recommendations to alter the pathways to assure that the town will reach its energy goals (p.21).” It is important to start filling these positions in order to move forward with our work as individuals and a community.

I recognize that our town is in a financially strapped situation, due to lost revenue from the coronavirus pandemic. I appreciate the work that you are doing to govern through this situation, while maintaining the services that we expect from town leadership and departments. However, I still think that we need to have a town Energy Coordinator in this year’s budget cycle. Given that one of the expectations for the town Energy Coordinator would be to find grant money to support our town efforts, perhaps this will eventually even be a money-saving proposition. Money is available from state and private entities, we just need a paid staff member to be focused on this effort!

I really hope that funding an Energy Coordinator position can be added into next year’s budget.

Thank you,

Williston Energy Plan Summary

Thanks to Marcy Kass for this excellent summary of the Williston Energy Plan. Feel free to share!
Currently the first draft of the Town Budget does not include paying for anything in the Williston Town Energy Plan. So while it was approved by the Selectboard, there’s currently no money in the budget allocated to its recommendations, most notably the Town Energy Coordinator position.
We are rolling up our sleeves in Sustainable Williston to see if we can do some outreach in the community. While funding a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a challenge, as a town, country, and species we can’t afford NOT to do it.

Stay tuned!


How to Support the Proposed Town Energy Plan

1- Attend (and invite your friends and young people) to the Williston Selectboard’s virtual Public hearing Tuesday July 28th, 2020 at 8:00 PM:

2- Make a comment during the meeting by emailing Erik Wells, Assistant Town Manager at beforehand or alert Town staff by using the Zoom chat feature. When it is your turn to speak you will be unmuted.

3-Plan your statement in advance so it is brief and clear. If you want inspiration or to be strategic, you can reinforce one of the points in the recently published Planning Commission’s letter, submitted in response to the Selectboard’s questions from the June 16th informational session.

4- Please make sure that you have signed the letter in support of adopting the Energy Plan!

See you on Tuesday!

Why Sustainable Williston Supports the Proposed Town Energy Plan

Our group’s mission is to “identify opportunities to decrease our town’s consumption of natural resources and to create sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.” The proposed Energy Plan for Williston embodies this mission!

Being a community means coming together to solve problems that we can’t solve by ourselves and an organized collective approach is the only solution to the climate crisis we face. This plan focuses on making town-wide changes that include everyone and result in a bigger impact as we act together.

In 2018 the Town of Williston passed a Renewable Energy Resolution at Town Meeting demonstrating that Willistonians care about this issue. Vermont already has a goal of 90% renewable energy by 2050, but experts say we need to act even faster! We can’t afford to wait for action at global, national or state levels to get started and be a leader in local resilience.

The Energy Plan supports the environmental and financial health of our town now and into the future. Residents and businesses are expected to save money. It also creates jobs, including hiring an Energy Coordinator, specifically for Williston, to carry out this plan and make it a reality. Plus there are real costs to not acting on climate (the Shunpike Rd culvert washout is an example) and this plan helps Williston take a proactive approach to reducing our emissions and becoming more resilient.

If you’ve been wanting to do something about climate change, or maybe you already are but feel like your individual actions just aren’t adding up to enough impact, this is a chance to make a difference! Please consider showing your support by signing this letter to the Williston Selectboard, sharing it with neighbors, and attending the public forum on this topic on 7/28 at 8pm.

“Environmental justice means racial justice”

We have homework for our July 23 meeting when we prepare a permanent website statement on Sustainable Williston’s commitment to racial and social justice. If people can commit to diving into one of the following, it would help prepare us for a productive meeting.

Read an article from the Sierra Club Racism Is Killing the Planet or another piece on this connection (Bill McKibben has been writing some for the New Yorker).

Review white supremacy characteristics and reflect on discussion questions at the end. Be ready to talk about organization level (not individual level).

Start drafting some language for a permanent website statement on racial/social justice

Read proposed Town Energy Plan – even if you just skim it.

Read A Resolution Declaring a Climate Emergency TOWN OF WILLISTON.docx

Tonight- Williston Town Energy Plan heads to the Selectboard

Town of Williston LogoThe Williston Town Selectboard will be looking at the proposed Williston Town Energy Plan tonight on Tuesday, June 16.

The Energy Plan Task force (led by Brian Forrest) did yeoman’s work drafting the Energy Plan- a local level plan towards achieving the goals of the 2016 State of Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan. The Williston Comprehensive Plan lays out the community’s vision for the future. It provides a stable framework for working on community aspirations through town investments, regulations, and programs. State law requires it to be re-written and adopted anew every eight years (next due in 2024), but it can be amended at any time through a defined hearing process.The Planning Commission unanimously forwarded it to the Selectboard after making a number of tweaks and clarifications over the past ten months. The Planning Commission recommends hiring a full-time town Energy Coordinator to lead efforts on implementation of the plan. June 16 is the first time the Selectboard will be seeing these documents. A series of Public Health-related updates to the Comprehensive Town Plan will be discussed by the Selectboard as well. They could: 1- send either or both back to the Planning Commission for questions or changes, or 2- go right to public hearings (two before Selectboard votes on adopting changes).

Here is a link to the Selectboard’s June 16 meeting agenda:{96449592-69A6-4502-BE3E-B65A07A333CB}&DE={129B5356-6134-440A-9309-6840CCFD8E0B} Look at the three attachments that start with “Comprehensive Plan…” The first is the “Transmittal Memo” that summarizes what the other two are about and the process for adopting them:

Note that the Public Health updates are summarized rather than being shown in context in the 140 page town plan document. The Energy Plan is an entirely new 52-page document which will be an appendix to the Town Plan at this point and may become more integrated into the Town Plan in the next update (in 2024).

The June 16th Selectboard meeting begins at 7:00 PM with Zoom Webinar ID: 858-4954-4031. The Comprehensive Town Plan updates are scheduled for 7:55, but that could change–in front of it is discussion of F-35 noise. It is recommended to join at 7:30 if you want to be sure to be present for the discussion of the Energy Plan. Most of the discussion will be the Selectboard asking questions of the Planners, as it is their first time dicussing the proposed Town Energy Plan. Two public hearings will be scheduled with a time for public comment. We recommend attending the Selectboard meeting, as it will be valuable knowing what questions they ask. We believe that tonight is the time to express support for going ahead with the public hearings–frankly we’re not sure how it will go.

Don’t weed out your milkweed!

If you notice some large seedlings popping up right now that look like this, it might be common milkweed.


If you let it be, it will grow into a large (~3 feet) plant with pink blooms loved by pollinators .


This plant is also the preferred host species for the Monarch caterpillar, so you may even get a striped visitor later in the summer.









Then, keep an eye out for a nearby chrysalis and emerging Monarch that will grace your garden before participating in the greatest butterfly migration event on Earth.
















Yes, you can help make that happen by allowing milkweed to grow in your yard!

Please share your pictures of native plants and pollinators.

Climate Adaptation and Forest Management at Catamount Community Forest discussion tomorrow night (Tuesday, May 5 7-8:30pm)

Click Here to Register

Climate change, shifts in disturbance regimes, and an increasing prevalence of non-native invasive insects, diseases, and plants have created considerable uncertainty around how to best care for our forests into the future. In response to this challenge, a series of forest adaptation studies are being established across Vermont, including on the Catamount Community Forest, to learn more about how to sustain key forest ecosystem functions, including wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration, under novel environmental conditions.

Join Dr. Tony D’Amato, Ethan Tapper, the Chittenden County Forester, and the Catamount Community Forest Committee for a webinar on Tuesday, May 5 at 7-8:30pm discussing the effects of climate change on our forests, opportunities for adaptation and the overview of this specific project at the Catamount Community Forest.

Register at: