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Long-time conservationist protects 40 acres in South Burlington

  • 3 Min Read
  • September 21, 2023

Farmland, woods, and wetlands protected near Shelburne Pond

Sarah Dopp has long been a local champion for conservation. She was instrumental in starting the South Burlington Land Trust in 2003 and has served as its president since.

In late summer 2023, she donated conservation protections on her own land to protect it forever. The 40 acres of farmland, woods, and wetlands is in South Burlington’s “southeast quadrant.” Many value the area for its mix of agricultural land, natural features, and scenic views.

Adding to protected lands in South Burlington

Sarah’s land is virtually surrounded on all sides by previously conserved and public land. It also directly abuts City-owned property to the north. It is now part of a network of over 1,500 acres of conserved and public land that includes Shelburne Pond and the natural area surrounding it.

“With the conservation that has already occurred in this immediate area,” said Sarah, “this land provides protection for a puzzle piece that will support connectivity for the wildlife, waterways and forests valued by so many others in northwestern Vermont. I am so happy with this outcome and grateful to all who helped me realize this dream.”

The parcel has a headwater stream that flows to Shelburne Pond and nearly seven acres of a large wetland that extends beyond its boundaries. The conservation easement includes special protections for the stream and wetland to boost clean water and flood safety. There is also an area of Clayplain Forest, which is uncommon in Vermont. The parcel’s farmland is used by neighboring Bread and Butter Farm for grazing.

“Sarah’s generosity and dedication to land protection really come together with the conservation of her own land,” said VLT’s Bob Heiser. “She is protecting water quality and flood resilience, supporting local food, and securing habitat for wildlife.”

Project was decades in the making

Sarah said that her love for the land was encouraged by the previous owner, Betty Bandel, who taught English at UVM for several decades. Betty had purchased the parcel in 1955 and was an early supporter of VLT.

“I shared her devotion to the natural world and to the continuation of agriculture in South Burlington,” said Sarah. “When I inherited the property in 2010, I began the journey of formalizing its preservation. This easement gift is the culmination of 25 years of intentions and dreams.”

City support and future trail possibility

The City of South Burlington contributed funding from its Open Space Conservation Fund to cover a portion of the conservation project costs, which helped make the  project possible.

While the land will remain in private ownership, the project includes the potential for a future public trail segment across a corner of the property if needed for future trail connectivity to the City’s Scott property.


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