Wolcott – December 22, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — Brothers Steve and Oran Young, along with their wives, Jan Roy and Gail Osherenko, donated a conservation easement to the Vermont Land Trust on 84 acres of their family farm along Town Hill Road in Wolcott.
Their decision to work with the land trust came after they inherited the property following the passing of Steve and Oran’s parents, John and Eleanor Young.
As a family, they agreed that the land should always remain in farming and forestry. They also felt that, left undeveloped, the land would further protect the ecological integrity of the neighboring Bear Swamp Natural Area.
John and Eleanor Young originally purchased the farm in 1947 to start a Christmas tree operation. Through sales on the wholesale market, their trees graced living rooms as far away as Washington D.C. The Youngs operated the tree business until the 1990s, yet even now, some of their remaining hybrid and experimental trees are used as seed sources by other growers.
Today, the gently sloping land has a mix of hayfields, forestland, and wetland. It joins a block of nearly 800 acres of previously protected land.
John and Eleanor once owned the stretch of boreal forest and wetland that is now the Bear Swamp Natural Area. They conserved this land with The Nature Conservancy, and today it is used as a field study site by Sterling College.
The other nearby conserved land includes a UVM Research Forest and two privately owned parcels that were previously protected with the Vermont Land Trust.
This area has unusual geological features associated with the end of the ice age in Vermont, along with habitat for plants, mammals, and birds more typical of the spruce-fir forests of Canada.
“It’s especially important to protect sizable tracts, particularly those that support important wildlife habitat or have unusual geological features,” said Steve Young. “Bear Swamp and the entire Tamarack Brook drainage meet all these criteria, and we hope to see more efforts toward their conservation in years to come.”
The area serves as an important wildlife corridor that is the focus of state and non-profit organizations working on the multi-state “Staying Connected” initiative.
The Young family land was protected with a conservation easement—a legal tool that limits development on productive farmland and forestland, and other meaningful natural and community places. Landowners continue to own, manage, and pay taxes on the land and can sell their land; however, the conservation easement permanently remains on the property.
Since 2000, the Vermont Land Trust has been working with the Friends of Wolcott Pond, a group of neighbors who are encouraging conservation and land stewardship in the area. The Northern Rivers Land Trust has also been an important partner in the protection of Wolcott Pond, Bear Swamp, and the broader landscape.
“We are delighted by the completion of this project,” said Oran. “We see it as another step toward conserving open land and forest in and around the Town of Wolcott.”
“The Young family’s decision to conserve their land serves as a great example of the role landowners can play in preserving our working landscape as well as those sensitive areas that make Vermont the special place it is,” said Tracy Zschau of the Vermont Land Trust.
This project received support from The Green Mountain Fund (a donor-advised fund of the Vermont Community Foundation)