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Green Mountain Conservancy to add 626 acres to Deer Run Nature Preserve

The Green Mountain Conservancy is a nonprofit whose mission is to acquire and conserve wilderness lands in southern Vermont. To learn more, visit greenmountainconservancy.org or call 802-257-0012.

NEWFANE—The Green Mountain Conservancy has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement to acquire and conserve 626 acres of wild land in Newfane and Brookline.

According to a news release, this land abuts the first 287 acres conserved as part of the Deer Run Nature Preserve in Dummerston and Brookline.

These 626 acres of forestland and ridgeline constitute the southern terminus of the Putney Mountain Ridge, contiguous to 287 acres the GMC has already conserved.

The Phase II property rises from 360 feet above sea level at the West River shoreline to 1,460 feet at its highest point. The terrain varies from the flat fields to steep slopes, plateaus, and overlooks.

Vermont Conservation Design, part of the state Agency of Natural Resources, has identified this property as a “Highest Priority Forest Block.”

According to GMC, the property is also identified as “having Highest Priority Surface Water and Riparian Areas; as containing Highest Priority Rare Physical Landscapes and Land Types; and as a Priority Forest Connectivity Block.”

Conservation will protect this property in perpetuity, the GMC said.

The significant features of this parcel include 2.5 miles of undeveloped frontage on the West River, with glorious views from the Route 30 corridor and from the highest elevations down the West River Valley.

Other features include topographic benches left by glaciation and flooding events and cliffs created by uplift and continental collisions eons ago, and a dramatic and active landslide area.

The parcel contains numerous rich forest sites, including a cove containing shagbark hickories (which provide summer shelter for the endangered Indiana bat), 185 acres of deer wintering yard, and a working sugar bush.

There are also 47 acres of pristine agricultural fields, early successional habitat that provides nesting sites for bird species, including species that have been identified as of greatest need for conservation, and corridors for wildlife and species movement, adaptability, and resilience.

The Mercede family has owned this land since 1995 and has offered it to the Green Mountain Conservancy at 10 percent below the appraised value. This parcel is one of the few large forested blocks left in this area.

“Such parcels don’t often come on the market, and rarely at a price affordable for conservation,” the conservancy said.

The Green Mountain Conservancy will hold a public information meeting about Phase II of the Deer Run Nature Preserve on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., in the Williamsville Hall on Main Street in Williamsville, across from The Eatery. The hall is ADA-compliant.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #538 (Wednesday, November 27, 2019). This story appeared on page A2.

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