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Vermont Piedmont

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About the Vermont Piedmont

The Vermont Piedmont is a region oriented north-south, mostly located in southeastern Vermont, but extending into western Massachusetts, located at the eastern foothills of the Green Mountains / Berkshires, between these mountains and the lower elevations of the valley along the Connecticut river. It is geologically distinct from the regions on either side.

The underlying bedrock is metamorphic, including some rocks high in calcium. The calcium-rich soils buffer streams against acidity and contribute to the area being more suited for Western agriculture than the surroundings. The topography consists of hills and low mountains, elevations mostly ranging from 300 to 3,000 feet but peaking at 3,144 feet at Mount Ascutney. Local relief is typically 500-900 feet but can reach over 1,500 in some areas.

The region has a humid continental climate, with a short growing season of 100-130 days. Precipitation is high and roughly equally distributed year-round.

Forest cover here consists of a mix of northern hardwoods and transition hardwoods with greater presence of oaks. Northern hardwood forests feature American beech, yellow birch, and sugar maple, and some red maple, white ash, and American basswood. There is also some eastern hemlock, in hemlock-northern hardwood forests. Warmer south- and west-facing slopes have mesic red-oak northern hardwood forests, with northern red oak, sugar maple, American basswood, American beech, and eastern Hemlock. There is also some white pine-red oak-black oak forest. Dry ridgetops feature red pine, and some dry oak-hickory-northern hardwood forest with red oak, white oak, shagbark hickory, eastern white pine, and hophornbeam. Small areas of spruce-fir forest can be found at the highest peaks.

This area is fairly heavily utilized by humans relative to how rugged it is, and has a diversified economy relative to other rural areas. Although agriculture has declined from its peak, the landscape is still a mosaic of farms and woodland in some areas, although other areas have larger, unbroken tracts of forest. Agriculture here is fairly diverse, with a lot of pastureland and hay production, some livestock grazing and dairy farming, production of corn for silage, some vegetable farming, and apple orchards. This is also an important region in the production of maple syrup. Outside of agriculture, there is some rural residential development, forestry, and some tourism and recreation.

Over most of its length, this region is bordered by the Northern Connecticut Valley to the east and the Green Mountains/Berkshire Highlands to the west. At the north, there is a fairly broad border with the Northern Piedmont, the more northerly counterpart to this region. At the southern end, this region borders the Berkshire Transition to the south and the Connecticut Valley to the east, except for a small area where it directly borders the Worcester/Monadnock Plateau to the east.

References

1. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A., Royte, J., Hoar, W.D., Homer, J.W., Keirstead, D., Metzler, K.J., and Hellyer, G. "Ecoregions of New England (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2009) Web.