Farmland, Natural Areas, Recreational Land and Forest Land in Bennington, Addison, Chittenden, Grand Isle, and Caledonia Counties
Vermont Business Magazine At a recent meeting, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board awarded $1,968,509 in state funds matched by $1,411,500 in federal funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and $599,500 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect agricultural and recreational land, natural areas and forest land in 11 towns around the state.
These investments will help to conserve 1,000 acres of farmland, expand Alburgh Dunes State Park, allow the towns of West Bolton and St. Johnsbury to protect public access to popular local spots, and restore an historic train station in Danville that will become a waypoint on a regional trail system.
VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig said, “VHCB support to conserve farmland and protect water quality on seven farms in Hinesburg, Jericho, North Hero, Charlotte, Pownal, and Weybridge will help farmers retire, transfer land to the next generation, and consolidate debt in a challenging economic time for agriculture. Spending related to public use of recreational land conserved with VHCB funds will supplement regional economies and the properties will provide permanent public access for generations to come.”
St. Johnsbury – The Vermont Land Trust and the Town of St. Johnsbury are working together to protect 119 acres featuring trails to Observatory Knob, a high point with views overlooking the area and located within walking distance to downtown. Partially wooded, with hay fields and pastureland, the land will be owned by the town. A VHCB award of $200,639 will be matched by a commitment of $20,000 by the town, donation of 5 acres by a neighboring landowner, and additional fundraising necessary to complete the project budget.
Town manager Chad Whitehead said, “Observatory Knob is a well-loved walking destination and an important local landmark which is in close proximity to our Designated Downtown and Village Center. Conservation will guarantee permanent public access to these trails while also keeping the agricultural land in use. It’s a win-win for our citizens and for visitors to the area.”
Danville – With a VHCB award of $75,000, the Town of Danville will undertake structural repairs to the historic Danville Train Station. Through this multi-phased project, the station will be adapted for reuse as a hub for recreation, tourism, and community gathering. Built in 1871, it is located adjacent to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, one-half mile south of Danville on the Peacham Road. The 93-mile, east-west recreation path connects Danville to St. Johnsbury. The segment of the rail trail connecting Danville and Swanton is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
West Bolton –Friends of Wheeler Field, a local community group, will use $86,600 in VHCB funding to purchase a 2.5-acre property and transfer it to the town. The land has been used for recreation and public gathering for generations and there is broad support for protecting public access to the field. The project is a result of a cooperative effort between the West Bolton Golf Club, Vermont Building Resources, the Town of Bolton, VHCB and Friends of Wheeler Field.
Alburgh - The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation is working with The Nature Conservancy to add 160 acres to the 600-acre Alburgh Dunes State Park, a benefit for both people and nature. The acquisition will expand recreational access to Lake Champlain while conserving 16 natural communities and 27 rare species. A VHCB award of $379,270 will help to match funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to conserve the lakefront parcel. VHCB awarded $116,730 to this project in December 2020.
Hinesburg, Jericho, North Hero, Charlotte, Pownal, Weybridge – The Vermont Land Trust will work with seven farms to conserve 1,000 acres of land using $1.2M in VHCB funding and $1.4M in federal funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The farms comprise dairy, vegetable, hay and cropland operations. Conservation easements will permanently protect water quality and wetlands and sale of the easements will help farmers retire, reduce debt and reinvest in their farms. Two of the conservation deals will facilitate transfer of farms to new owners.
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board supports the development of affordable housing and the conservation of Vermont’s agricultural and recreational land, forest land, natural areas and historic public properties. To learn more, visit vhcb.org