Partners raise $1.1 million to add island to Brighton State Park and keep it open to the public

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) purchased the 15-acre island in Island Pond and a three-acre lakeshore parcel with support from the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), the two organizations announced today. The land is now under FPR management as part of Brighton State Park, which abuts the southern and eastern shores of Island Pond. It is also protected by a conservation easement co-held by VLT and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) that permanently protects public access and natural resources.

FPR bought the island and the lakeshore piece from the John C. Hall Trust, with the support of the Brighton selectboard. As part of Brighton State Park, the parcels will remain open to the public and continue to contribute to the area’s recreation economy.

“This is an exciting conservation success! These parcels have outstanding conservation values, which are now protected, and which FPR will promote as part of Brighton State Park,” said Gannon Osborn, Land Conservation Program Manager for FPR. “FPR is thankful for the partnership and support of the Vermont Land Trust and the local community, which made this project possible.”

The iconic island has been at the heart of the community and a scenic and recreational asset for decades. Now in public ownership, it will always remain open and its natural resources will be protected.

Under FPR’s management, the public will have access to the island for recreation and exploration. The lakeshore parcel will help staff at Brighton State Park manage the island.

The conservation easement co-held by VLT and VHCB ensures public access and protection for the natural features of the island and lakeshore parcel. The island features a state-significant Red Pine Forest and unique breeding habitat for bald eagles and loons.

Credit Chip Tremper
woods with pine-needle cover trail leading to pond. Island Pond Brighton Vermont

The island’s 15 acres include a state-significant Red Pine Forest and unique breeding habitat for bald eagles and loons.

Credit Chip Tremper

“The island is such a special place, and we are so happy to have played a role in protecting it — in partnership with FPR, the Town, and so many supportive members of the community,” said Kerry O'Brien , Project Director for VLT. “We’re grateful to every individual who donated and especially to the local fundraising team — the results exceeded our expectations.”

State and federal funding and community donations raised $1.1 million

In the spring of 2022, VLT and FPR began to collaborate on an effort to protect the island because it was for sale on the open market. FPR secured a contract to buy the property in May 2023. With the contract in place, FPR and VLT began raising the funds needed — approximately $1.1 million — to buy and conserve the land, and establish a modest stewardship fund for the future.

The two organizations applied for and secured grants from VHCB and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. These two sources covered approximately 93% of the funds needed.

The remainder, approximately $76,000, was raised through community donations from community members and area businesses, including the Community National Bank, Passumpsic Bank,  the Lintilhac Foundation and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

The expansion of Brighton State Park is especially fitting as Vermont State Parks celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.

Northeast Parks Regional Manager for FPR, Nick Caputo said: “FPR’s acquisition of the island as an addition to Brighton State Park guarantees access to a beloved location in the NEK, and gives future generations the opportunity to enjoy a remote state park experience, while being close to all that Island Pond and Brighton State Park have to offer.”

Credit Caleb Kenna
aerial photo of small New England town with large lake - Island Pond in Brighton Vermont

Island Pond is in the heart of the Brighton community.


Group of men and woman standing in front of historic building. The team that helped protect the island in Island Pond and add it to Brighton State Park, Vermont.

Immediately after the closing in Montpelier, from left, Gannon Osborn of FPR, Phil Undercoffer, Chip Tremper, John Hall, Dan Keenan, and VLT staffers Vanessa Wedlund and Kerry O’Brien.