Large Stretch of Central Vermont Will Remain Wooded
4 min read / May 18, 2022 / By Rachel Mullis
A win for wildlife, forests, and climate in Worcester and Elmore Vermont
If you’ve ever driven Vermont Route 12 through Worcester and Elmore, you might remember one long stretch of highway for what’s not there.
“It feels like you’re in some remote part of Maine, even though you’re just outside Montpelier,” said VLT’s Tracy Zschau. “There’re no light poles, no driveways… just woods. Just wild land.”
This rugged central Vermont forest is part of an important wildlife corridor that connects habitat in the US and Canada. Large stretches of connected habitat are essential for species that need to move far and wide, such as moose and black bear. The land also includes miles of headwater streams and wetlands important for water quality.
Generosity and responsibility
Now, 6,500 acres here are conserved for wildlife, forest health, forestry, and recreation – thanks to the generosity of landowners who worked with VLT over many years to protect this land.
One of these is the Meyer family, long-time owners of nearly 6,000 acres. Hugo Meyer loved the Vermont woods. After World War II, he began acquiring abandoned farmland to reforest it for timber. His family has cared for it ever since.
“We had a philosophy: okay, we owned this land for 70 years, but that’s just a brief time in the march of history,” said John Meyer, Hugo’s son and a retired forester. “We viewed it as our responsibility to pass the land on better than we found it.”
Credit Alex Ducanson
The land was permanently protected through the federal Forest Legacy Program. “With all of the challenges in front of us, land protection is more critical than ever,” said Kate Sudhoff, who helps coordinate the program at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. “The scale of this project and incredibly strategic location with surrounding conserved lands puts the importance off the charts for wildlife habitat connectivity and resilience to climate change.”
The land is being sold to new owners who will manage it for sustainable timber and sugaring.
“It was just magical”
Meanwhile, hiking trails and waterfront access to the North Branch of the Winooski River are being managed by the Vermont River Conservancy for everyone to enjoy.
“I remember driving by that brook with my dad in his old ‘54 Chevy and it was just magical along there,” said John, noting that locals have hunted and hiked in the area for years. “The way this project has worked out, we’re very pleased.”
This project is a fitting cap to the legacy of VLTer Carl Powden, a visionary leader who devoted his career to protecting Vermont’s forests and working lands and who did so much to conserve this forestland. Sadly, Carl passed away in January 2022.