Historical Society Hosts Speakers on Land Conservation in Vermont
by Hal Gray
GREENSBORO – Two pioneers in Vermont land conservation spoke August 8, at the Greensboro Historical Society annual meeting. Bob Klein, former director of The Nature Conservancy of Vermont, and Darby Bradley, former president of the Vermont Land Trust, took turns describing the roles their organizations played in Vermont land conservation.
Klein distributed a timeline including such key dates as 1932: the Green Mountain National Forest was declared (to stop uncontrolled logging, fires, and flooding); 1936 – rejection of the Green Mountain Parkway; 1962 – The Vermont Nature Conservancy (TNCV) chapter (formed in 1960) made its first purchase (Molly Bog); 1968 – The Vermont billboard law is passed; 1972 – The bottle bill, leading to can and bottle redemption is passed.
Klein noted the Philip Gray family donated 256 acres on Barr Hill in 1971 to TNCV, which also owns nearly 800 acres around Greensboro’s Long Pond. In fact these two areas reflect TNCV’s approach to its land, with Barr Hill listed as one of TNCV’s 11 “Flagship Natural Areas” with easier public access, while Long Pond and bordering lands represent TNCV’s 58 more-ecologically interesting natural areas with more difficult access.
Klein described Long Pond as one of the few undeveloped ponds in northern Vermont, which consequently is in need of protection. He noted that while TNCV started in 1960 with volunteers, it eventually hired a development staff to generate the funds for purchasing land. Since 1960, the organization has conserved over 300,000 acres in Vermont while maintaining 58 natural areas totaling over 30,000 acres that are open to the public. TNCV has helped with the acquisition of 23% of all state-owned lands, including wildlife management areas, state parks, and state forests.
Bradley described the early years of the Vermont Land Trust: how the Ottaquechee Regional Planning Commission and the Hartland Planning Commission led to the Hartland Open Space Project which the town voters defeated. This in turn led to the emergence of the Ottaquechee Regional Land Trust in 1977 which nine years later would be renamed the Vermont Land Trust (VLT).
VLT benefited from the 1970 passage of Act 250, Vermont’s principle development control law. The 1987 creation of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board led to development of affordable housing and land conservation programs. Governor Madelaine Kunin supported conservation, although the situation changed dramatically in 1991 when Howard Dean became governor and made land conservation the centerpiece of his “100 Year Plan.” Bradley added that with about 2,500 conservation easements, a major task is monitoring them to assure the conditions of their creation are being met. Local VLT connections in our area include the former Brassknocker Farm in East Craftsbury on whose land the Craftsbury Community Care Center is built, as well as significant support from the Freeman Foundation whose family has long had a home in Greensboro.