Director of Land Protection Jon Binhammer knows how to bring the landscape to life. That flat strip of land under his feet—looking strikingly like an old road cut—is a terrace left behind by a glacial lake. The unassuming rock in his hands is actually called tufa and is an unusual bedrock formation which provides the soil rich calcium that gifts Vermont the ability to support 1,000 more species than our New Hampshire neighbors.
This is White River Ledges—a biodiversity hotspot in Sharon, Vermont that, with your help, we successfully expanded by 459 acres this past December. Jon walks about 400 yards in one hour and everywhere he looks, he conjures rare plants from the landscape. Standing in one spot, Jon points out 9 species of fern, 4 species of goldenrod, and at least 10 different species of tree.
The recent expansion safeguards 13 natural communities, 28 rare and uncommon species of plants, 2 miles of White River shoreline, a critical part of a regionally significant wildlife corridor, and an uninterrupted and bucolic view shed from the I-89 corridor.
Visitors can explore on a 1.6-mile foot trail that leads hikers along a river, up a hillside, and into scattered pockets of rich northern hardwood forest abounding with diversity: sugar maples, white ash, sweet birch, black cherry and other tree species. It is here that you will also find the distinctive and rare maidenhair fern.
White River Ledges Natural Areas is what the Conservancy would refer to as one of “nature’s strongholds,” a resilient landscape that is predicted to help plants, wildlife, and people withstand the growing impacts of climate change by allowing species to move as they adapt to changing temperatures.
“This is what The Nature Conservancy does best—we identify Vermont’s natural treasures and work diligently to conserve them over time. With support from our members, we began working to protect this biodiversity hotspot over 20 years ago and are thrilled that the sum of our efforts is 643 acres of connected and resilient landscape,” shared Jon.
White River Ledges is one of our 55 natural areas that we own and manage throughout Vermont and is open for hiking, fishing, birding, hunting and snowshoeing. Explore all of them.