Our People

Heather Furman

State Director, Vermont

Vermont

Headshot, Heather Furman

VT Heather Furman Vermont Heather Furman headshot 2019 © David Seaver Photography

Areas of Expertise

Land & Water Protection, Conservation Strategy & Planning, and Non-profit Leadership

Executive Assistant

Kasia Fodor
ph. 802-229-4425 x 112

Biography

As State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Vermont since August 2013, Heather Furman leads a statewide team of conservation and programmatic talent to achieve a resilient and connected landscape for both nature and people. Within the New England Division, Heather also guides a team of scientists and conservation experts to achieve large-scale protection for land and water.

During her tenure, Heather has grown the visibility, influence, and scope of TNC’s conservation work in Vermont. She provides leadership for strategic conservation actions including landscape-scale protection, partnership building, and scientific research. In 2018, Heather initiated Vermont’s first and largest forest carbon project eligible for the California carbon market. Under Heather’s leadership, the chapter has also launched an innovative program focused on nature-based solutions to advance water quality, created both trustee and staff fellowship programs to broaden engagement, and created the chapter’s first program focused on state and federal policy solutions.

Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Heather spent a decade as Executive Director of Stowe Land Trust where she guided the organization through transformative growth, dramatically accelerating the pace and scale of conservation initiatives. Heather has held planning positions with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and was co-founder of the Climbing Resource Access group of Vermont (CRAG-VT), a non-profit dedicated to land protection for recreation access and habitat. She served as its Board president from 1999-2005. In 2006 she joined the Board of the Access Fund, a climbing advocacy organization based in Boulder, CO, and worked nationally to protect land for recreation access. She served as the Access Fund’s vice-president from 2007-2009 and helped steer the organization through a multi-million-dollar capital campaign for land conservation priorities around the country.

Heather has spent several years living, working, and traveling throughout Latin America and Asia. From 1995-1997, she lived in Nepal, where she carried out conservation and community development initiatives for the World Wildlife Fund and the US Peace Corps.

An Ohio native, Heather earned her BA from the Ohio State University in Anthropology and is a graduate of The Rubenstein School of Environmental & Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, where she received her MS in Natural Resource Planning. She currently serves on Lake Champlain Sea Grant’s Program Advisory Committee. Heather moved to Vermont in 1998, where she enjoys trail running, fly-fishing, hunting, and spending time with her husband, a black lab named Macintosh, and an assortment of cats.

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Support for Public Lands

March 14, 2022

Vermont’s public lands are our shared spaces. They’re the places where we fish, swim, hike, hunt and paddle, activities that are important to our culture and identity as Vermonters. These conserved lands also work for us by filtering pollutants from our air and water, mitigating climate change by storing carbon, minimizing damaging floods by slowing runoff, and providing critical habitat that allows wildlife to survive and flourish. Conserved land is also an integral part of our state’s economic engine, driving our tourism and outdoor recreation economies.

Together, tourists and residents generate $5.5 billion in annual consumer spending related to outdoor recreation in Vermont, which supports 51,000 jobs with an associated $1.5 billion in wages and salaries. Hunting, fishing and wildlife-related activities are enjoyed by 53% of Vermonters, who spend $288 million per year on these pastimes.

Incredibly, for every $1 invested in conservation, $9 is returned in natural goods and services to our communities—that’s a great return on investment for cleaner water, flood prevention and a healthier Vermont.

But while the benefits of public lands are innumerable, only 16% of Vermont’s lands are in public ownership. At a time when equitable access to the outdoors is critical, and while we are seeing a decline in our forest cover for the first time in 100 years, public lands are essential to everything we care about as Vermonters. In fact, a 2020 UVM study found that during the COVID pandemic, engagement with nature increased by 65%, and that 59% found that time in nature improved their mental health and well-being.

With demographic shifts leading to widespread conversion of agriculture and forestland, the places our wildlife depend on for their survival and Vermonters rely on for their well-being, are in danger.

Now is the time to support new investments in public lands.

Under Sen. Patrick Leahy’s leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to receive an $8.5 million investment to increase Vermont’s public lands and secure the range of benefits they provide. By using these funds to purchase land from a willing seller, we can protect wildlife, expand public access, and secure the benefits of nature, in perpetuity. By supporting these rare federal investment opportunities, we are stretching limited state-generated conservation funds even further.

My organization, The Nature Conservancy, has helped conserve over 300,000 acres of land in Vermont. Of that conserved land, more than 90% is now in public ownership, representing many of the state parks, national forests and wildlife refuges we all know and love. Vermont’s irreplaceable public lands like Green River Reservoir State Park, Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, Green Mountain National Forest, Camel’s Hump State Park and Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, define our landscape, propel our economy, and support our natural and human communities.

Public lands and their benefits belong to us all. Please consider lending your voice to let Senator Leahy, Governor Scott and your legislative representatives know that you support public lands funding.

Heather Furman

State Director

 

When Nature Unites Us

Read Heather Furman's series of commentaries.

  • wading in the cool waters in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

    Investing in Natural Infrastructure

    A once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure was just made possible by Congress passing the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Read More

  • Hunger Mountain near Waterbury, Vermont.

    Nature is at the Heart of Our Recovery

    Next month marks the one-year anniversary of our worlds contracting, many of us into our homes, families, or ourselves. During this great contraction, many were drawn to the outdoors as a place to escape. Read More

  • View from Barr Hill in September

    Nature, Uninterrupted

    We have long recognized the restorative power of nature, but in times of social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis, nature becomes even more essential. Read More

  • in California.

    Green Transportation Investment Has Rural Support

    The time has come for us to think differently about how we get around in Vermont while investing in our rural communities, and rural voters seem to agree. Read More

  • Vermont winter scene of skiing field trip at Barr Hill Natural Area

    Decade Ahead Calls for New Conservation Vision

    The decade ahead demands a new vision for our Green Mountain State, one that will turn the tide on our environmental impacts and fully address our way of living on this planet. Read More

  • Whitetail deer, a buck in Autumn rut.

    Hunting & Conservation: Making Room for All

    Hunting & conservation have helped recover much of our wildlife, their habitats and our forests. Vermonters directly benefit from making room for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. Read More

  • Vermont staff and partners gather around a map at Helen W. Buckner Memorial Natural Area at Bald Mountain.

    Focus On What Unites Us

    If we are serious about tackling the biggest challenge facing people and the planet today, there is one thing we can do that will make the biggest difference: Talk to one another. Read More

  • Vermont staff hike to the top of Burnt Mountain in the Northeast Kingdom.

    Tapping the Potential of Our Forests

    Healthy forests are key to a climate-resilient future. Forests can offer 37% of the emissions reductions needed to keep the earth's warming below 2 degrees Celsius by 2030. Read More

  • at Bald Mountain is the largest and most ecologically diverse natural area managed by The Nature Conservancy in Vermont.

    A Changing Landscape

    Change in Vermont’s landscapes can be unsettling, but it can also hold opportunities to implement creative solutions to some of our state’s most pressing issues. Read More

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Solutions For Clean Water in Vermont","description":"The Nature Conservancy in Vermont's Water Quality Blueprint identifies the best places to invest in nature to help clean up Lake Champlain.","link":"https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/vermont/stories-in-vermont/nature-based-solutions-for-clean-water-in-vermont/","target":"_self","hideArticleDate":"true","desktopImageCrop":"center-middle","mobileImageCrop":"center-middle","pageImageAlt":"Woman's hands scooping water from a stream.","articleDate":"Sep 15, 2018","articleAuthor":null,"contentTypeTag":"Program Overview","geoLocationTag":["Vermont","United States"],"topicTag":["lakes","water conservation","conservation work","water quality"],"placesWeProtectTag":[],"businesstags":["Vermont","United 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