Liza Walker passes the baton to Mead Binhammer
After helping us protect and steward farms, forests, and recreation spots in the Mad River Valley for 18 years, veteran VLT staffer Liza Walker has passed the baton to a new Project Director. Mead Binhammer joined us in fall 2023 and will be serving the Valley along with other parts of central Vermont.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Mead, but sad to say goodbye to Liza,” said VLT’s President & CEO, Tracy Zschau, who worked closely with Liza for many years as Director of Conservation. “Together with our partners in the Valley, Liza has been a tireless champion for the Valley’s conservation needs. We’re looking forward to doing more good work with Mead’s support.”
Mead comes to us with a background in land stewardship and wildlife biology. Before joining VLT, he worked at the Trustees of Reservations in Massachusetts, the National Park Service (Wyoming; Grand Teton National Park), and Buzzards Bay Coalition, a regional Massachusetts Land Trust.
He grew up in Brookfield, Vermont, attended Randolph Union High School, and graduated from Union College with a degree in Environmental Science.
Mead is a birder, runner, hiker, and a frequent skier at Mad River Glen.
“I’m thrilled to return to the state to carry out VLT’s mission in the Central Vermont towns that gave rise to my ardor for the outdoors and passion for conserving these important landscapes,” Mead said. “And I’m excited to help the Valley take steps to mitigate the damaging effects of climate change, boost the land’s ability to safely hold water and reduce flooding, and protect biodiversity.”
Mead will be based at our Montpelier office.
Protecting farms and forestland, securing land for the community, supporting flood protection in the Mad River Valley
Liza began working for VLT in 1996, then in 2005 became the organization’s Project Director for the Mad River Watershed.
Our conservation efforts in the region date back to the early 1980s. Since then, nearly 11,500 acres have been protected across the five-town region. Liza and other VLT staff have worked to protect historic dairy farms and farms growing food for local markets and farmstands. Some of the landmark farms we helped protect are Kingsbury Market Garden, Hartshorn Farm, Bragg Farm, Marble Hill Farm, and Alpenglow Farm.
We’ve also helped Valley towns create and protect town forests. Scrag Mountain, Wu Ledges, Chase Brook, Moretown, and Boyce Hill Town Forests protect wildlife habitat and water quality, and provide opportunities for connection to nature.
Many of these conservation projects also included trail easements for public recreation. Critical sections of the Catamount Trail and the Mad River Path were secured. Special protections for clean water and flood safety were also added, including over 10 miles of land along rivers and ponds, and nearly 80 acres of wetlands to date.
Working in partnership
The Mad River Watershed Conservation Partnership was a key partner in these conservation efforts for over 20 years. The partnership was a collaboration between the Mad River Valley Planning District, Friends of the Mad River, and VLT.
Many other municipal and community partners also played a significant role, including selectboards, conservation commissions, recreation groups like the Mad River Valley Recreation District, Mad River Path Association, Mad River Riders, and individuals who generously supported efforts to conserve the Valley’s farmlands, forests and special places.
Thank you Liza!
Liza wrapped up her VLT tenure this summer.
“It was a tremendous privilege to work closely with so many dedicated landowners, community members and citizen leaders to expand the footprint of conserved lands in the Valley,” said Liza. “Together, we protected many special places that can continue as landmarks and critical resources for future generations. I am so pleased Mead will carry this work forward—and will experience the joy of working with the Valley community.”
Liza has moved on to the Environmental Mediation Center as Program Manager and Mediator. She provides mediation services to the agricultural community and forestland transfer planning in Vermont. Liza remains involved with Valley projects in an individual capacity, including the Farley Riverside Park.
The Farley Riverside Park is being developed on seven acres by the Lareau swim hole along Route 100 (formerly the Tardy parcel) that the Town of Waitsfield purchased, with conservation help, in 2003. Public access improvements and riverside restoration are planned. And the land is being rededicated to the memory of the late Virginia Farley, a VLT staffer and community member who championed conservation in the Valley from 1983 to 2003.