Critical Wildlife Corridor
The Green Mountain Conservancy is working with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Land Trust to conserve over a thousand acres of woodland where the Windham County towns of Brookline, Dummerston, and Newfane meet. The Deer Run Nature Preserve spans both sides of the of the Putney Mountain Ridge and includes over three miles of West River shoreline as it curves around the southern terminus of the mountain. This area is a critical wildlife corridor between the Connecticut River and the Green Mountain National Forest.
The Deer Run Nature Preserve will provide public access for hiking, hunting and other activities, with plans for a trail head and parking area on Camp Arden Road.
West River Watershed
The land contains a great diversity of terrain, many streams, several vernal pools and small wetlands. As a drainage basin into the West River, it supports water storage capacity and protects water quality. This forested area is an essential carbon sink that is critical to ameliorating the effects of climate change.
Phase I: 287 Acres
GMC has a purchase and sale agreement on a 287-acre parcel of woodland in the northwest corner of Dummerston. This land is remarkable for tall hardwoods, hemlock-filled ravines, deer yards, stunning views, and many stone walls. In March, 2019, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board awarded GMC a major grant which will allow us to close on the land by the end of the year. We are pursuing foundation grants as well as local fundraising to meet our funding goal.
Phase I of the Deer Run Nature Preserve enjoys tremendous local and regional support. Two abutting landowners have pledged conservation easements on an additional 150 acres. Dummerston residents unanimously passed a resolution of support at their annual Town Meeting, in March, 2019. Neighbors and community members have already invested hundreds of hours of volunteer time in this project and are committed to providing ongoing stewardship. One volunteer has laid out and begun cutting the first of several hiking trails.
Phase II: 636 Acres & 3 miles of Riverfront
Green Mountain Conservancy is currently negotiating the purchase of 630 acres contiguous with Phase I. This land descends from the top of the Putney Mountain Ridge to the West River in Newfane, and will protect approximately three miles of river frontage. The property includes hay fields and a sugar bush, both in active production. Green Mountain Conservancy hopes to complete the sale in 2020.
The Deer Run Nature Preserve contains state-significant terrestrial and wetland communities, and forests of all ages. There are confirmed deer wintering yards and strong evidence of bear and bobcat activity. This area is also a haven for birds and other species listed “in need of conservation.”
While two transmission lines cross the preserve, ecologists have noted the value of the early-successional/shrub-scrub habitat that these rights-of-way provide. Birds that have been declining in Vermont—brown thrasher, field sparrow, prairie warbler, mourning warbler—were among those found in numbers during a preliminary site survey in 2018, when two ornithologists identified over 60 species.
Benefits of Deer Run Nature Preserve
- prevent further forest fragmentation;
- provide a refuge for indigenous species;
- maintain a travel corridor for wildlife;
- safeguard the West River watershed;
- create opportunities for people to develop a deeper appreciation of the natural world.
Tax-deductible Donations can be made to:
Deer Run Nature Preserve
PO Box 301
West Dummerston, VT 05357