Spear Street Forest Service Lab Transferred to UVM
- By Mark Twery & Carl Waite
The University of Vermont acquired the George D. Aiken Forestry Sciences Laboratory at 705 Spear Street in South Burlington in June 2013. It was transferred from the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station as part of a mutually beneficial arrangement between the Forest Service and the Rubenstein School to share both office and laboratory space.
The laboratory was built by the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station of the Forest Service, originally to focus on sugar maple research, and when it opened in 1973, was known as the Sugar Maple Laboratory. Several Forest Service research projects focused on different aspects of sugar maple trees and maple syrup production, from the physiology and genetics of the trees to the process of manufacturing and marketing maple syrup products.
In 1982, at the conclusion of the special sugar maple research program, the activities of the research projects expanded, and the building was renamed the George D. Aiken Forestry Sciences Laboratory. In 1998, the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station was renamed the Northeastern Research Station, and in 2005 merged with the North Central Research Station to become the Northern Research Station.
The lab on Spear Street has seen many research projects come and go, and the research scientists still in Burlington work on many varied topics. Ongoing research focuses on tree physiology, nitrogen cycling, nontimber forest products, and forest management and silviculture for multiple benefits, among other topics. Many synergies are expected from the increasingly close collaboration between Forest Service researchers and their UVM colleagues now that the George D. Aiken Forestry Sciences Laboratory (Aiken Lab) has joined the George D. Aiken Center as a primary facility of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR).
The Aiken Lab provides laboratory space for RSENR faculty, some UVM faculty from other units, and Forest Service scientists. Additionally, office space for RSENR faculty, staff, graduate students, and Forest Service technical staff, as well as office and lab space for the American Chestnut Foundation, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, and the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative (VMC) are provided at the facility. Also, 17 solar trackers located on the property produce over 100,000 kWh of electricity annually, which is fed into the power grid and used to offset energy usage in the newly-renovated Aiken Center.