Centennial Woods History


A brief history of Centennial Woods: Centennial woods grows upon the site of the ancient Champlain Sea from 10,000 years ago, this explains the forest’s sandy soils. In more modern history the Abenaki Native American tribe lived sustainably in this region of Vermont hundreds of years ago. They likely hunted, gathered and passed through areas of Centennial during this time. With the movement of European Settlers into the area during the 19th century, Centennials old growth forests were cleared for agricultural purposes and timber. Entering the 20th century re-growth began in some areas of Vermont including the northeastern region of Centennial woods. Only later on in this century, following 1947 did regrowth begin in the lower region of Centennial Woods where my phenology site can be found. This information was determined by Ariel images of the region provided by Burlington geographic.

Left: 1937 Aerial Photograph of Burlington, VT by Sunburn Co.                                              Screenshot of Centennial Woods by me.

Right: Present map of vegetation in Burlington, VT provided by Burlington Geographic. Screenshot of Centennial Woods by me.

When I visited my site this week I found it buried and a sparkly, thin layer of fresh snow. I was shocked to see how many trees had fallen since my last visit although most were standing snags that had fallen. Considering the history of this region of Centennial it makes since that some of the young forests original trees, with shorter longevities such as White Birch trees, are now nearing old age and death.



Mary Holland

Beavertail State Park, November:

Beavertail is especially crisp in late november as the area’s lush summer vegetation has disappeared and given the area more of a hollow beauty. The trees have lost their leaves in preparation for the colder months ahead, all life enters into survival mode.

Chickadee– permanent residents

These gray, black, and white little birds are preparing for the cold. As they have been chowing down on seeds and berries all summer and fall they are finally at maximum size, ready for winter. Their plumb bodies will help them to make it to spring, even when food becomes more scarce.

Honeysuckle– Invasive King

Honeysuckle plants thrive in this area, easily growing and dominating out some of the more local plants. Although flowerless in the cold, they maintain power in numbers as the clear rulers.

White Tailed Deer– Preparation Mode

The deer population is booming at this time of the year, following the replenishment of many young new fawns over the spring and summer. Sighted deer tracks indicate they are on the move, likely eating what vegetation they can find in preparation for future food scarcity.

Paper Birch Trees– First Responders

Paper Birch trees line parts of the trail, exemplifying their ability to grown in damaged forest areas. They stand tall and beautiful inciating to me that the trails creation is fairly young, less than 40 years.

Aldo Leopold

An Comparison Between Beavertail and Centennial Woods in Late November:

This week’s guest phenology site was beautiful Beavertail State Park in Jamestown Rhode Island. The small peninsula stands tall lined with menacing shale bluffs. Hidden between the guarding rocks are small sandy coves waiting to be explored. I notice how the water lapses and swirls creating small tide pools upon protruding shale. Similar to the stream side erosion at my site in Centennial Woods, the shale bluffs appears to be chipping away on a much larger scale with the constant crashing waves. Another similarity I notice between the two sites are the skeletons of seasonal shrubs and trees. Here at Beavertail honeysuckle is far more dominant, intertwined with thickly growing pricker bushes. Rather, at Centennial, the areas understory is more bare. A noticeable amount of Paper Birch trees line the trail, mixed with an assortment of native New England trees at both sites. Mysteriously mixed in at Beavertail is an unusual tree with small pink flowers still in bloom, standing alone. Shrubs full of red and blue berries also line the trails here in Beavertail, proving to host more invasive species. A Chickadee can be heard sweetly chirping in the distance and left in the dark brown mud are the tracks of a deep. Both of these indications of life are something not yet observed in Centennial. Lastly, a small mushroom sits in the grass, slowly eating away at autumns fallen leaves. It has a golden-brown, marshmallow complexion with the addition of small white speckles. This mushroom reminds me of the ones spotted on my last phenology site visit in Vermont. 


The Arrival of November


Yesterday morning I took a walk down to Centennial Woods and visited my phenology site. This was a great way to start my day and the rainy weather woke me up. As a results of this rain the stream’s water level was very high, nearly flooding in some places. Witnessing this rushing water helps me to understand the stream-side erosion I had observed on earlier visits. Also during this visit I noticed a dying Paper Birch tree. Knowing Centennial Woods to be fairly young, it makes sense that this birch tree could’ve been a re-gorwth tree from the “Stem Exclusion” stage of the forest. Now that Eastern White Pine trees have become dominant, in the old growth forest stage, trees like this Paper Birch are blocked of sunlight and die. Lastly, on the Paper Birch I also observed wood pecker holes. Hopefully I can soon spot the bird who made these holes!

Photo Gallery




Event Map

Autumn Visit


Sunday I stopped by my phenology site and noticed immediate change. Many of the deciduous understory trees had changing leaves and bare limbs. This allowed me to see much further into the forest beyond my spot. The Eastern White Pines, making up the main overstory of my site, maintained their green needles, keeping the area looking alive. Still, it was clear the forest is preparing for winter. Another indication of winter’s coming was the lack of animals. I did not see nor hear any life beyond the trees and shrubs during this visit. My last observation was a check-up on my site’s Ash tree. It continues to look healthy and beetle free.

Birdseye map of site –

Green and Alive


Today I visited my phenology site. I have a small clearing in Centennial Woods, alongside the creek. I was drawn to choose this location because of its natural beauty. The combination of the creek’s movement and surrounding vegetation make the area feel extra alive. The most common tree at the site is Eastern White Pine, but there are several Ash and Buckthorn trees as well. I am curious if I will see the first hand affects of invasive Emerald Ash Borer’s in the coming months on my sites healthy looking Ash’s. Although there are lots of other diverse trees, such as a Boxelder and Paper Birch, the grounds of my site are covered densely with smaller plants and saplings. Over-story trees seemed more dominant. Getting to the location is straight forward from the Centennial trail entrance. If you follow the trail straight, turning right off of the first path split, you will arrive in no time.