Much has been written and said about Vermont forests in recent years, from those who believe our forests are threatened and from those who believe Vermont’s woodlands are healthier than ever. Fortunately, the U.S. Forest Service inventories Vermont’s woodlands every 10 to 15 years, giving us information to put the discussion about the health of our forests in context.

I encourage everyone to read the opening section of Environment 1999, as it summarizes the recently completed U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis and provides more information about our state’s forest lands than most Vermonters have ever had the opportunity to read.

We have chosen to devote almost all of Environment 1999 to forestry issues. As we come to the close of the 20th Century, this is an appropriate time to note the remarkable story of how Vermont forests have rebounded during the past 100 years. Four-fifths of the Vermont landscape was cleared for fields and pasture a century ago; today our state is more than three-quarters forested. With the return of the forests, many important wildlife species have also returned, our rivers and streams are cleaner, and our wooded countryside brings visitors back to our state year after year.

I hope you enjoy Environment 1999. As always, we invite you to share your thoughts on this document.

- John Kassel, Secretary

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