Development Rights Preserved Opn 1470 Acres in Stockbridge

f02p1_lg.jpg

Front Page / Dec. 28, 2006 12:00am EST

By M. D. Drysdale

Development Rights Preserved Opn 1470 Acres in Stockbridge By M. D. Drysdale

The shaded areas represent the 6000 acres which have been protected from development in the 55,000-acre Chateauguay region. The forested region is within the towns of Barnard, Stockbridge, Bridgewater and Killington.The shaded areas represent the 6000 acres which have been protected from development in the 55,000-acre Chateauguay region. The forested region is within the towns of Barnard, Stockbridge, Bridgewater and Killington.

When he was in prep school, one of Dick Rose's teachers remarked that the best thing her student might do would be to find a New England hill farm and "plant trees for your old age."

So in 1935, as a sophomore at Middlebury College, Rose and a friend traveled up and down Route 100 in Rochester, stopping at every house to ask whether there might be a hill farm for sale.

At one house, they got the answer they hoped for—the offer of a 112-acre farm on "the steepest hill I'd ever seen in my life," east of Route 107 in Stockbridge. The buildings were falling down and the fields were growing up into forest, but it was just what Rose was looking for. Four years later, he began planting trees.

Last week Rose, an energetic 91-year-old who lives in Mendon, sold the development rights to that farm and those trees to the Vermont Land Trust. The property was included in the sale of development rights on a huge 1470-acre parcel, all of it in Stockbridge, one of the biggest in the Land Trust's history.

The Rose property lies on the side of Sable Mountain in what is known as the Chateauguay region, one of the largest undeveloped parcels of forestland in Central Vermont.

Preservation of as much Chateauguay land as possible is one of the top priorities of the Vermont Land Trust, said Mark McEathron of the VLT. Lying within the towns of Barnard, Bridgewater, and Killington, as well as Stockbridge, Chateauguay is a unique place, he said.

Chateauguay

The 55,000 acres are accessed by a very few, very narrow roads, including Stony Brook Road from the north and South Hill Road from the west. It includes, a stretch of the Appalachian Trail, the former settlement of Notown and the extensive state-owned Les Newell Wildlife Area.

"There are a few parts of Vermont that primarily provide vast expanses of forest with relatively few roads," he said. "Chateauguay is one of them." And there is a "great deal of uncertainty about what will happen," he said, leading the Land Trust to focus its acquisition efforts there.

Since the inception of the Chateauguay project in 1999, landowners have worked with VLT to conserve 13 parcels totaling 6170 acres—2500 of them owned by Rose.

Rose conserved his land through a "conservation easement" in which he will continue to own, manage, and pay taxes on the land and can sell it; however, the conservation easement remains on the property permanently.

The easement will permit timber harvesting as long as there is a management plan; no clearcutting will be allowed, McEathron said.

Funding from the Freeman Foundation allowed the VLT to purchase the property at $200 per acre, or a total of less $300,000, which VLT termed a "huge bargain."

Asked why he decided to conserve his land, Rose responded, "I've seen some unfortunate things happen on some of my favorite woodlots. I think the only way we're going to stop development here is through arran\gements like this one with the Land Trust."

McEathron at VLT continues to be amazed at the commitment of Rose, one of Vermont's earliest consulting foresters, to his "favorite woodlots."

Still Planting

"I was out with Dick and Kathy Beland (his forester) this summer planting white pine seedlings," he marveled. "It's never about himself, it's about the forest."

"What one owner does with his land—whether good or bad—will be reaped by the next owner," he reflected.

The nonprofit Vermont Land Trust over the past 29 years has helped conserve more than 1300 parcels of land covering more than 455,000 acres, or about 8% of the private undeveloped land in the state.

Return to top