Sunset over Shelburne Pond at the H. Laurence Achilles Natural Area.
Shelburne Pond Sunset over Shelburne Pond at the H. Laurence Achilles Natural Area. © Emily Boedecker

Places We Protect

H. Laurence Achilles Natural Area At Shelburne Pond

Vermont

H. Laurence Achilles fell in love with this pond, and the natural area was named after him.

Shelburne Pond is a surprising find. Located just 10 miles from the metropolis of Burlington, it is an area that has retained its wild and rich character despite the pressures of development. There are over 400 acres of swamps, marshes and rich woods associated with the pond. These habitats support several unusual plants—especially ephemeral spring wildflowers—and birds.

The pond also serves as an important educational resource for the University of Vermont. Now largely owned and maintained by the University of Vermont (UVM), the H. Laurence Achilles Natural Area at Shelburne Pond—named for the Kodak heir and philanthropist who supported the Conservancy's earliest acquisitions there — is a place where conservation, recreation and research peacefully coexist.

Over 30 years in the making, the natural area at Shelburne Pond is one of the oldest and longest-running protection projects of the Vermont chapter and a successful collaboration between the Conservancy and UVM.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Regional analysis identified the deepwater marsh, dwarf shrub bog, and limestone-rich pond at Shelburne Pond as high priorities for conservation.

What the Conservancy is Doing

Over the last 30 years, the Conservancy has protected 1,046 acres here. Most of the land has been transferred to the University of Vermont. The Conservancy owns a few parcels surrounding the pond that are leased to local farmers. Most recently, the Conservancy and volunteers planted a 50-foot wide shoreline buffer of native shrubs, dogwoods, willows and alders at the south end of the pond which will someday replace the invasive buckthorn.

There is an easy-to-hike, one-mile trail loop maintained by the University of Vermont. Visitors can also explore the shoreline of Shelburne Pond in a canoe or kayak. The state-owned fishing access to the pond is located about one mile east of the intersection of Pond Road and Dorset Street about six miles south of Burlington.

What to See: Plants

The pond is surrounded by cattail marshes, a hardwood swamp, fine limestone cliffs and talus slopes, pine forests, a dwarf shrub bog, and rich northern hardwood forest. In the spring, wildflowers abound here in profusion. Bloodroot, hepatica, spring beauty, red and white trillium, squirrel corn, Dutchman’s breeches, wild ginger and blue cohosh can be found in the rich woods and near the limestone ledges and outcroppings.

What to See: Animals

Coyotes pass through the cattail marsh and pileated woodpeckers thrive in the woods. There have been tracks and signs of snowshoe hare, meadow voles, and beavers found here.