LONDONDERRY — Some 3,500 acres of Glebe Mountain forestland will help anchor a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management area in southern Vermont.
The land in Londonderry and Windham, now owned by The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization, will be transferred to the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge to create a larger federal district, organizers announced on Oct. 26.
“Under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stewardship, the property will be made more accessible for expanded and compatible public access and uses,” Wildlife Refuge Manager Andrew French said in a statement.
Glebe Mountain is deemed a “high-priority habitat” for such wildlife as black bear and birds, including the wood thrush and Blackburnian warbler.
The parcel was a privately owned hunting preserve and proposed site of a 27-turbine wind farm before The Nature Conservancy purchased it in 2019.
“Vermont and the planet are facing the twin crises of accelerating biodiversity loss and climate change,” the conservancy's state director, Heather Furman, said in a statement. The new area “will be a benefit to our communities and for our wildlife for generations to come.”
The Nature Conservancy has helped conserve more than 300,000 acres of land and 2,000 miles of shoreline in Vermont. It has acquired nearly one-quarter of all state lands - including such landmarks as Camel's Hump - before transferring them to government management.
The project was helped by federal money secured by retiring U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. According to The Nature Conservancy, Leahy obtained an $8.5 million federal appropriation earlier this year for public lands projects in Vermont.
“The decision by U.S. Fish and Wildlife to add Glebe Mountain to the Conte refuge means it, too, will be open for public use by birders, hunters, hikers, and others, while protecting a diverse ecosystem and preventing forest fragmentation,” Leahy said in a statement.
The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, established in 1997 to help conserve the Connecticut River watershed, includes nearly 40,000 acres in the New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.