Vermont's Native Tree Stock Shortage

Annalise Carington (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Intervale Center) & Lynda Prim (Intervale Conservation Nursery)
Red osier dogwood bare-root stems ready for planting
October 27, 2021

View or download a copy of the episode transcript here.

By Alison Adams

In this episode of Restoration Roundup, we speak with Annalise Carington, Conservation Specialist at the Intervale Center and U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and Lynda Prim, who is the manager of the Intervale Conservation Nursery. We discuss the shortage of native trees and shrubs for restoration work in Vermont. 

Recent work by American Forests described this challenge at the national level. They found that nursery production needs to more than double, from 1.3 billion seedlings per year to more than 3 billion per year, in order to meet even half of the reforestation potential in the lower 48 United States by 2040. 

Surveys of nursery growers and seedling buyers conducted by Annalise and me this year suggested that the problem is similar in Vermont; about half of the seedlings we use for restoration plantings are purchased by our nurseries from out-of-state for resale. Although price points for out-of-state trees from large industrial nurseries are usually lower, locally-sourced and propagated trees are more likely to be adapted to the specific growing conditions in Vermont, and less likely to risk carrying pests or pathogens from other parts of the country. Furthermore, developing and maintaining a native tree growing workforce in Vermont would allow us to invest in our own community as we purchase trees for restoration projects.

The seven operating nurseries in Vermont are currently operating at or near capacity. All of them would like to expand if they had the resources to do so, but there are many challenges to ramping up production. Nurseries cite difficulty predicting the highly variable market from year to year, sourcing highly specialized equipment and developing needed infrastructure, labor shortages, and more. There is also a group of individuals in Vermont who have expressed interest in opening new nurseries, but who need space, funding, and/or a better understanding of nursery operating procedures before they can get started.

Listen to the episode to learn more!

This episode featured the call of the wood duck, a bird found in Vermont’s riparian areas. The sound used was recorded by Christopher McPherson at Beaver Brook Great Meadow in Hollis, NH on November 2, 2019. The song was downloaded from

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement (LC00A00695-0) to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

Image courtesy of Annalise Carington, The Intervale Center & USFWS.

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