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“This is where we belong”: Couple decides to donate land for the forest’s future

3 min read / November 2, 2023 / By Rachel Mullis

“It was the most unspoiled place we could find. It was like: ‘OK, I need to be in Vermont year-round’.”  - Claudia Rose

A family destination becomes a permanent home

Lew Rose grew up in the Midwest, surrounded by picturesque farmland. But by the time he was an adult, many familiar places had been replaced by housing developments and shopping malls.

So, when he and Claudia, his nature-loving wife, discovered the rural landscape and forests of Vermont, they were hooked.

As young parents, they brought their two children here to vacation each summer. Though the kids complained about other destinations, they were always happy to visit the Green Mountain state.

“It worked its magic on them too,” Claudia said.

When it was time to retire, Lew said there was no question that Vermont would become their permanent home. Claudia fought back tears when she attempted to describe how they feel about their adopted state.

“It was the most unspoiled place that we could find,” she said. “It was just like, ‘okay, I need to be in Vermont year-round’.”

“It hit us that, wow, this is where we belong,” Lew added.

A crossroads for wildlife

The Roses bought 120 acres of forestland in Enosburg Falls in the late 1990s and built a house with a view of the northern side of Mt. Mansfield. They spend much of their time outdoors: skiing, gardening or hiking in the woods depending on the season.

The couple’s property falls within the Cold Hollow Region. This seven-town area is part of an internationally critical wildlife corridor in the Northern Forest that links New York with Nova Scotia.

They are passionate about supporting Cold Hollow to Canada (CHC), a nonprofit organization. Its vision is a connected ecosystem across the entire Northern Forest achieved through permanent protection, sustainable stewardship, and engaged local communities.

Lew admitted their woodlot is a small part of the larger wilderness, “but we are an important part because it is a crossroads for animals.”

Using citizen science to make space for animals

The Roses trained with Sue Morse, naturalist and wildlife tracker, and are part of the Keeping Track program at CHC.

“Our team goes out four times a year to look for animal signs,” said Lew, “whether it’s fisher tracks or bear claw marks on a tree, we record and file that information.”

They’re keenly aware of the changes the future can bring. “One of the purposes of Keeping Track,” explained Lew, “is if a development were proposed, we as citizen scientists have documented the activity of moose, bear, and other significant species over the last 10 years.”

The Roses also are part of the CHC Woodlots group, which regularly gathers with neighboring landowners to help inform future conservation efforts.

Leaving a legacy by donating land in Vermont

The Roses conserved their land with us in 2012. And then in 2023, they set up a legacy gift to donate their land to VLT.

When we eventually sell their land, the proceeds will be used to fund more conservation in the region, in partnership with CHC.

The Roses gift will support other landowners who want to conserve their land so more forest can be protected.

“We intend our donation to be used to serve the forest in northern Vermont,” Lew said.

“We’re not going to be around to do that, but we are confident that VLT in partnership with CHC are committed to conserving and protecting intact blocks of forestland in this vital piece of the Northern Forest.”

Want to learn how to donate land in Vermont?

Giving your land or home to the Vermont Land Trust is among the most generous legacies you can leave. While donated farms or large forest blocks can support our mission directly, we also accept houses and smaller properties that we can sell and use the proceeds for our future work.

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