A bird’s-eye view of the Green Mountain National Forest shows large areas with smoothly rounded edges. But a closer look reveals private land interspersed with the nearly 400,000 acres of national forest. Bridging these gaps is a conservation goal, because uninterrupted woodlands keep wildlife populations strong. This winter, Ryan Goldman generously donated a conservation easement on 539 acres in Middlebury that fit like a perfect puzzle piece between two large portions of the national forest.
The property reaches 2,000 feet in elevation and provides views of the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks. There are four sections of woods that are dominated by white, red, and chestnut oak trees. “There are impressive patches of chestnut oak, which you don’t come across often in our woods,” said VLT’s Bob Heiser. These oak forests will be carefully managed to mimic the natural, low level of disturbance they need. There are also wetlands and several streams, including some that feed into Beaver Brook and branches of the Middlebury River and the New Haven River. The wetlands have special protections to preserve the soil and promote clean water.
The Green Mountain National Forest and this property are in one of the largest undeveloped blocks of land in the state, and animals roam freely across much of this landscape. “These large stretches of connected forestland are incredibly important to our wildlife populations,” added Bob. “The way this property is surrounded by the Green Mountain National Forest makes it that much more essential to protect.”