Southern Vermont Forest
The first task for Dave McDevitt, southern Vermont land steward is getting to know the land, up close and personal.
The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Vermont Arts Center announced today that the Conservancy has acquired 312-acres of forested land located behind the Arts Center. Eight years in the making, this deal protects a textbook example of a rich northern hardwood forest – one of the largest and best-preserved examples in all of New England.
In making the announcement, SVAC Executive Director, Christopher Madkour said “This is a win-win situation on so many fronts. This sale preserves the integrity of the forest, allows for continued recreational use by the public, and the proceeds will fund an endowment trust devoted to furthering the Arts Center’s mission.”
A year ago, with grants already secured from national foundations and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), the Conservancy launched a local fundraising push to complete this $850,000 project. Realizing the commitment needed to conserve this forest, three local residents stepped forward in the summer of 2009 with a $100,000 challenge grant, to which the community responded with more than 120 contributions. In total, more than 160 local residents, individual donors, foundations and the VHCB have contributed to this important conservation effort.
“Our ability to bring this project home in such a difficult year is a testament to the determination and conservation ethic of the Manchester community. We give our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has taken part”, said Bob Klein, State Director for the Conservancy’s Vermont chapter. “This acquisition brings us a large measure closer to creating a greenbelt of conserved lands along the eastern flank of Mt. Equinox.” Klein notes that the Conservancy’s vision for this includes a trail from Manchester to Merck Forest, and that a local group has begun working on this.
Over the last 20 years, including Pew Forest and the SVAC parcel, the Conservancy has protected a total of 2,364 acres. In closing Klein said, “We are continuing to pursue opportunities to further our vision of connecting the patchwork of conserved lands reaching from Manchester to Merck Forest”.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.