By Trina Bianchi, Contributor

Do you feel that Charlotte is a welcoming community?
Do you feel that we have the diversity you would like to see in our town?
Do you think we have a good town plan?
Do you feel that we have a lot of civic engagement from our residents?
Do you feel that we are prepared for emergencies and that folks are prepared to help others in times of need?

These are some of the questions asked in the Community Connections and Capacity portion of the Resilience Survey that was sent out late last year, and the results of these are shown in the accompanying table. This will be the focus of the last of the community discussions hosted by the Charlotte Community Partners (CCP) around this survey.

The discussion will be held on Tuesday, June 22, at 7:00 p.m. The link to this zoom discussion, hosted by Margaret Woodruff and Nicole Conley, can be found on the Charlotte Library website. I hope you will join this discussion, which I’m guessing will be a lively one!

Our third community discussion was on the Environment and Natural Systems, which covered river corridors and floodplains, land use, sensitive natural areas, common spaces and public access, and invasive species. Kevin Burget, co-chair of the Conservation Commission, spoke and explained that they have begun the process of updating our maps and have started communicating with the Planning Commission around the locations of various habitat and wildlife corridors with the goal of preventing penetration of these natural areas with building envelopes. Using current GIS mapping and game cameras, the commission is working to try to keep those areas in our town open for wildlife and at the same time helping steer development into areas that wouldn’t impact wildlife and/or natural areas.

Kevin mentioned that if residents have game cameras at their homes, it would be helpful to the commission if they were willing to share what they see for wildlife; the more information they have, the better. Using these resources, our town can be more helpful to builders and/or developers as to where and how to develop in our town. Kevin also spoke about the importance of having a current inventory of all our natural resources as a valuable tool. Another tool available to our town would be to do a survey resulting in a community values map, showing what we, as a community, value for natural resources in our town.

One of the concerns that the survey brought to light was around invasives and how to better control the proliferation of the honeysuckle, wild parsnip, garlic mustard and buckthorn, both along the roadways, in our yards and in wooded areas where these will crowd out native species and impact wildlife. A question raised was whether or not neighbors could get together and work together to try to eliminate some of these invasives. The challenge is how to effectively eliminate the buckthorn and then to introduce native seedlings into the area. One suggestion was to get a chipper with a group of folks to tackle a specific area! Other ideas were forthcoming of groups to contact for assistance, both with the elimination of the invasive and the importance of introducing something to take over the area, along with groups who can help with the acquisition of native seedlings. The Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District is one resource for us in terms of acquiring native seedlings to plant to replace the invasives. The importance of replacing the invasives with native species was noted as being critical to eliminating the invasives.

This was a well-attended meeting with great discussion around this section of the survey.

See you at the next one, June 22, at 7:00 p.m., to discuss Community Connections and Capacity.