The Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation worked with David Rubin of Park Forestry NY, LLC, to conserve 930 acres of managed forestland that is adjacent to Groton State Forest. A legal agreement will ensure that the property will remain undeveloped and continue to be sustainably managed for its timber and its wildlife habitat, while remaining available for pedestrian access.
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources now holds a permanent conservation easement on the property. The project was funded by the USDA Forest Service, through the federal Forest Legacy Program.
This property, located in the Town of Groton, is over 95 percent forested and shares a 1.4-mile boundary with the 26,000-acre Groton State Forest. The conservation of this land connects large blocks of protected land, and expands access for wildlife to diverse, high-quality habitat. The land is gently sloped with an excellent mix of species. There is a well-developed and maintained internal road system, which will greatly support its continued management.
Park Forestry NY, LLC, is a family-held corporation that is committed to long-term forest stewardship and conservation.
“Our motivations are to use conservation easements as [a] tool to meet our ownership priorities of increasing land available for recreation and ecological protection,” explained David Rubin. Over 10 years ago, the company conserved 1,700 acres of forestland in Sharon for the same reasons.
“We consider the easement as [a] superb public-policy and financial tool available from the State of Vermont and the Vermont Land Trust to help us position this parcel for meeting these long-term objectives,” said David.
The Forest Legacy Program was spearheaded by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy to protect large swaths of forestland throughout the United States.
“The permanent conservation of nearly 1,000 acres of private forest land in central Vermont that’s contiguous with thousands of acres of State Forest land is exactly the type of project that the Forest Legacy Program was created to accomplish,” said Senator Leahy. “To have this diverse and majestic landscape continue to be managed as a private working forest, while also being forever open to public enjoyment, is a wonderful outcome of which the Vermont Land Trust, Park Forestry and the State of Vermont can all be proud.”
“Conservation of this property will ensure that this large forested parcel remains forested for the long term, with all the associated benefits that working forests provide,” said Michael Snyder, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. “With the connection to Groton State Forest, this easement acquisition advances the strategy of building on conserved forested blocks with privately-owned easement lands to accomplish the land-protection goals of the private landowner and the State.”
A 1,500-foot ridge separates the land into two large headwater wetland complexes. One includes a rare plant community, a Rich Fen, and an uncommon plant, the swamp fly honeysuckle. The other wetland is used by beavers and other wildlife, including moose which were spotted during site visits. The conservation easement protects these wetlands and other waters, requiring a 50-foot vegetated buffer on either side of banks and shores to protect water quality and provide wildlife habitat.
The entire property is considered a ‘highest priority interior forest block’ under Vermont Conservation Design, a mapping tool that identifies areas critical to maintaining an ecologically functional landscape.
“This project began in 2014,” explained VLT’s Carl Powden, “as part of a larger effort to enhance the forest, wildlife and recreational values of Groton State Forest by conserving key privately owned forest that surround it.”
In combination with L.R. Jones State Forest and Levi Pond Wildlife Management Area, the Groton State Forest currently totals 27,165 acres. A diverse area, it is beloved by Vermonters and visitors for its feeling of wilderness and its inviting scenic and recreational features.
“This 930-acre property is an important part of that larger effort,” explained Carl.
The Vermont Land Trust is a statewide, member-supported, nonprofit land conservation organization. Since 1977, the Vermont Land Trust has protected nearly 2,000 parcels of land covering more than 593,000 acres, or 10 percent of the state. This includes more than 900 working farms and farmland parcels, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive forestland, and numerous parcels of community lands. This conservation work changes the lives of families, invigorates farms, launches new businesses, maintains scenic vistas, encourages recreational opportunity, and fosters a renewed sense of community. For more information or to become a member, visit www.vlt.org.
The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation practices and encourages high quality stewardship of Vermont’s forested landscape and outdoor recreation opportunities. FPR has participated in the Forest Legacy Program since it began in 1990 and has conserved more than 60,000 acres of forestland with easements and added over 12,000 acres to State Forests and State Parks through this program. For information about Vermont State Parks, trails, timber harvesting and managing forests in Vermont, visit http://www.fpr.vermont.gov