News: Nearly 1,200 acres on West Mountain protected

a trail through woodland - David Mance worked with VLT to conserve nearly 1,200 acres on West Mountain

Newly conserved forestland supports environment and economy

January 14, Shaftsbury & Rupert, VT — A large area on West Mountain has been protected, the Vermont Land Trust announced today. David and Cheryl Mance worked with the land trust to conserve nearly 1,200 acres of working forest in Shaftsbury. They also protected 239 wooded acres nearby in Rupert.

A former surveyor and consulting forester, David Mance continues to manage thousands of acres of land and is an active maple sugar maker and board member of the Vermont Maple Sugar Maker’s Association. He and his wife acquired a cluster of 20 contiguous forested parcels on West Mountain over several decades.

“In 1982, we began our land stewardship effort with the purchase of the former Col. Ayres farm, never realizing at the time that we’d be making subsequent purchases on West Mountain,” said Mance. “Decades later, we recognized that we had an opportunity to provide a legacy for our family and a benefit for the community by working with VLT to ensure the continued stewardship of this large block of timberland.”

Much of the protected land is at the top of West Mountain and, with elevations above 2,000 feet, is visible from Routes 7 and 7A. It is part of the Taconic Mountains, known for excellent timber and abundant wildlife.

“Much of West Mountain has been broken into separate parcels since European colonization,” explained Donald Campbell, VLT’s regional director for southern Vermont. “Protection of the Mance land ensures that a large block will remain whole. We’re prioritizing the conservation of large working forests like these for the many benefits they provide.”

The project protects headwater streams of Paran Creek, Little White Creek and Lake Shaftsbury, wetlands, and a vernal pool. In addition, if a future Taconic Crest Trail effort is successful, a public hiking trail from Shaftsbury to Arlington and possibly beyond could pass through the property. The land is near 400+ acres of forest that were protected for wildlife and timber by Hira and Solon Rhode this summer.

The Mance family also conserved 239 acres of woodland in Rupert within the Taconics. Located in the vicinity of the Merck Forest & Farmland Center’s 3,000-acre education center, the land supports a high-quality example of Dry Chestnut Oak Woodland, considered rare in Vermont.

bare trees on hillside in the Fall, overlooking farm fields in valley below and hills beyond

The Mance family also conserved 239 acres of woodland in Rupert, near the Merck Forest & Farmland Center’s 3,000-acre education center.