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Teaming up for 30×30 in Vermont

4 min read / March 11, 2024 / By Rachel Mullis

“We can do more together than we can apart.” - VLT President Tracy Zschau

Partnership strengthens forest protection

Northfield Ridge is a vast, wild landscape: Five and a half miles of steep mountains, streambeds, scenic pools, and mini-waterfalls, unmarred by major roads or electric grid transmission lines. The remote landscape is a valuable carbon sink and haven for wildlife like moose, bobcat, and bear.

The conservation of such a wide swath of forest—nearly 7,400 acres spanning three towns and counties—is rare in Vermont. But in 2022, our longstanding partnership with The Conservation Fund (TCF), a national land and water conservation organization, made it happen.

TCF acquired the property, which had long been working forest, in 2014 with the goal of protecting and selling it. But securing the conservation funding for such a large parcel was a challenge.

The property lay outside the priority area for the federal Forest Legacy Program, one of the only funding sources available for such large forest conservation nationwide.

Working together, VLT and TCF identified a landowner to buy and conserve it permanently.

Aerial view of colorful fall forest in Northfield Mountains, Vermont

Courtesy The Conservation Fund

Partnership will be key to accelerating land protection for 30×30 goals

As Vermont charts a course toward conserving 30 percent of its land by 2030—also known as the 30×30 Initiative—partnership will be essential to everyone’s success.

“We can do more together than we can apart, and Northfield Ridge is an example of that,” said VLT President & CEO Tracy Zschau. “Modernizing our statewide approach and cultivating effective partnerships is critical to accelerate the speed and scale of land protection to meet 2030 goals.”

Tracy emphasized that each partner adds value in a mutually beneficial relationship. In this case, TCF benefits from VLT’s deep knowledge of Vermont and its conservation challenges, while VLT benefits from TCF national presence, resources, and advocacy.

“TCF’s capacity and structure most excels at broad coverage and general expertise,” explained TCF’s Sally Manikian. “As the one dedicated TCF staffer for Vermont, I rely on VLT to be the driving force to define conservation success in the state.”

VLT and TCF have spent more than twenty years building respect, trust, and transparency to amplify their shared impact.

“We have great relationships at the staff level, but also really clear processes as to how we get projects done,” Sally said.

“Being able to be clear with each other is one sign of how healthy the partnership is,” Tracy agreed.

The approach is paying off. Since 1998, VLT and TCF have conserved over 12,000 acres together, most recently 314 acres of forest in Shrewsbury. Both organizations anticipate working together even more in the coming years.

After all, 2030 is right around the corner.


Photos courtesy The Conservation Fund

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