Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hartland's Lamb Farm Conserved with the Upper Valley Land Trust

On November 18, during a special meeting of the Hartland Conservation Commission, Anna Lamb signed documents that will ensure that the 67 acres of scenic open fields and forest that make up the Lamb Farm remain undeveloped forever. The Upper Valley Land Trust will uphold the conservation easement restrictions, while the family will continue to own and farm the land, and care for its many resources. Visible to travelers exiting Interstate 91, this land was preserved with funds from the federal Transportation Enhancements program through the Vermont Agency of Transportation. In addition, the Hartland Conservation Commission served as a critical partner, providing the matching funds needed to keep this working agricultural land available for future generations to enjoy.
The Lamb Farm is situated west of Route 5 in Hartland, VT in the Connecticut River Valley. It is a picturesque hillside farm along the lower eastern slopes of Tinkham Hill. More than 41 acres of open land on the property are among the first farm fields seen as travelers approach the Hartland Three Corners. Used for hay production and grazing cattle, the fields contain valuable agricultural soils considered to be of statewide significance.

Portions of the Lamb Farm also lie within an area identified as an Ecological Hot Spot by the Vermont Biodiversity Project. These Hot Spots are identified based on the density of rare, threatened and endangered species within a given area. A wetland nearby on Tinkham Hill supports a Red Maple – Black Ash Seepage Swamp, and is host to a rare plant species. While rare, endangered, or threatened species have not been identified on the Lamb property, its protection will add valuable supporting habitats to help maintain biodiversity in the region.

The Upper Valley Land Trust has conserved approximately 420 acres of land within two miles of the Lamb Farm, which is in addition to more than 300 acres of other conserved or public lands. The Lamb Farm fields are part of Hartland’s historic landscape and are an important representation of the contribution farming has made to the growth and sustenance of the town. The recent conservation easement will ensure that these fields will continue to be a part of Hartland’s working landscape for generations to come.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Town of Grantham Conserves Property with Upper Valley Land Trust

As of Wednesday, November 11th, a 30-acre parcel of land owned by the Town of Grantham, on Miller Pond Road will be protected from development forever. The Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT) now holds a conservation easement on the land, known as the Lucius Smith Lot, which will ensure that the parcel remains undeveloped and open to the public for low-impact recreational activities. This conservation project is UVLT’s first in Grantham, and represents the successful partnership with the Grantham Conservation Commission to see this land preserved.

The Lucius Smith Lot is adjacent to the expansive Flewelling Sherwood Forest, which includes over 820 acres of land protected by the Town of Grantham. Also nearby is the Grantham Town Forest, which is made up of more than 445 acres of forest land. Combined with these parcels the Smith Lot adds to the largest contiguous area of protected and public land in the town of Grantham. In addition, the newly conserved parcel is part of a larger unfragmented forest block of 43,570 contiguous acres, identified by the State of New Hampshire in the 2007 Wildlife Action Plan.

The Lucius Smith Lot is mostly forested with some wetlands, a stream, a small historic cemetery and a 10 foot cliff near its half mile of road frontage. The upland forest of the Lucius Smith Lot provides habitat and acts as a wildlife corridor to surrounding forests and a buffer to meandering streams. Nearby, Miller Pond, Skinner Brook, and a large wetland of over 15 acres, provide habitat to wildlife including white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, native brook trout, muskrat, otter, loons and many other mammal, bird (migratory song birds as well as water fowl), amphibian, and reptile species.

As well as important ecological value, this property has significant historic resources. Foundations, cellar holes, and a small cemetery area within the Smith Lot represent the range of these cultural sites. According to Dick Hocker, Chair of the Grantham Conservation Commission, historic land records indicate that the owner of the property in 1860 was H.S. Clement who was married to Julia Fisher. “Fisher Cemetery,” likely named after Clement’s wife, includes five grave markers and fencing protecting the vicinity around the markers. The remnants of the Clement house site are discernible northwest of the cemetery. An additional foundation can be found along Miller Pond Road. This foundation is thought to have been a barn or perhaps affiliated with the nearby dam on the Flewelling Forest Property.

Through the recently signed conservation easement, ecological, historical and recreational values of the Lucius Smith Lot will be protected in perpetuity.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Upper Valley Land Trust Recognizes Local Land Stewards

The Bradford Conservation Commission was recognized at the Upper Valley Land Trust’s Volunteer Appreciation Open House on November 10th. The Conservation Commission received an award from the Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT) for the dedication they bring to their work as stewards of the Wright’s Mountain and Devil’s Den trails. In addition to giving UVLT the opportunity to recognize standout volunteers, the event gave the regional land conservancy’s volunteers, staff and trustees a chance to discuss experiences from the field while sharing a warm meal and some of Jasper Murdock’s Ale brewed by Patrick Dakin at the Norwich Inn.

The event recognized UVLT’s more than 55 stewardship volunteers, who assist in activities such as trail maintenance, campsite upkeep, and conservation easement monitoring across the 44 towns that comprise UVLT’s region. Volunteers who help UVLT to monitor conservation easements walk around conserved properties and document any changes to the landscape. These walks are performed annually on the nearly 400 parcels that have been conserved with UVLT. In addition to the time and energy that stewardship volunteers contribute, dozens more volunteers assist UVLT with events, advocacy, various committees, photography and a variety of in-kind donations.

According to UVLT’s President, Jeanie McIntyre, “UVLT was created and is sustained by volunteers, who are rolling up their sleeves, lacing up their boots, sharing their time and ideas to make a greener future for our region. We are so glad to recognize all they accomplish and happy to invite more people to get involved.”

At this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Open House, UVLT chose to honor the Bradford Conservation Commission. The Commission is responsible for the maintenance of the Wright’s Mountain and Devil’s Den trails, owned by the Town of Bradford and conserved with UVLT. Under their stewardship, trails have blossomed into a well-loved community resource.

Monica Erhart, UVLT’s Stewardship Coordinator, remarks “I have been extremely impressed by the time, energy, and care that the Bradford Conservation Commission puts into their trails. Their dedication to the Wright’s Mountain and Devil’s Den properties is a model among town efforts. The few members of the Conservation Commission not only put incredible amounts of time into the trails themselves, but their ability to recruit volunteers has been remarkable.” Chair of the Bradford Conservation Commission, Nancy Jones, said that the work of stewarding Wright’s Mountain and Devil’s Den is dependent on more than the eight individuals who make up the Conservation Commission; community volunteers are essential to the Commission’s success.

The 15-year anniversary celebration of the conservation of Wright’s Mountain this June recognized the many people who have been recruited by the Commission over the years. During this event, members of the Commission hung photos of volunteers along a newly-opened trail. “There must have been several hundred photos,” Erhart remembers, “and members of the Conservation Commission could tell a story of each of the various helpers from the past.”

Especially noteworthy is the Bradford Conservation Commission’s innovation in their encouragement of responsible use of the property. “The Bradford Conservation Commission never runs into an obstacle and simply decides that their efforts cannot be accomplished,” Erhart says. “Instead, they pull their resources together, get people rallied up, and find solutions that are suitable for everyone.” The Commission has rallied together to restore the old cabin at the summit of Wright’s Mountain, which provides a comfortable shelter. Along the trails are a number of benches, each with a name engraved. These serve the dual purpose of thanking contributors to the Commission’s conservation and stewardship efforts while also giving hikers places to rest.

In order to join the Upper Valley Land Trust as a volunteer on a trail team, as a campsite steward, or a conservation easement monitor, please contact Peter Helm, Vice President Stewardship at or (603) 643-6626 ext. 104. Spring monitor training dates will be posted at in early 2009. To assist UVLT with events or other outreach activities, please contact Nora Doyle-Burr at or (603) 643-6626 ext. 102.