Deer Run Nature Preserve

In 2019, the Green Mountain Conservancy purchased and conserved a 287-acre forested parcel in the northwest corner of Dummerston, including 43 acres in adjacent Brookline. This was accomplished with the assistance and support of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Land Trust, as well as numerous foundations, community members and volunteers.

This property, the southern terminus of Putney Mountain, is a key wildlife corridor between the Putney Mountain ridge line, the Connecticut River and large forested areas to the west, into the Green Mountain National Forest. It is accessible to the public through a low gradient footpath that winds up the ridge line, taking hikers from “beauty spot” to “beauty spot”. People will continue to enjoy this property, as they have for generations. The ridge line provides much of the view seen driving north on Route 30 from the Dummerston Covered Bridge.

In 2021, the Green Mountain Conservancy purchased a 626-acre parcel that is contiguous to the original parcel.  It includes 2.5 miles of undeveloped West River frontage and spans the towns of Newfane and Brookline. This property has been identified by the Vermont Conservation Design (VCD) as a Highest Priority Forest block with Highest Priority Surface Water and Riparian Areas, and a Priority Forest Connectivity Block.

The significant features of this parcel include the glorious views it provides to travelers on Route 30, panoramic views from the highest elevations, topographic benches left behind by a series of glaciations and by more recent flooding events, cliffs created by uplift and continental collisions eons ago, a dramatic and active landslide area, numerous rich forest sites including a cove with incredibly tall trees including shagbark hickories, 45 acres of pristine agricultural fields, 176 acres of deer wintering yard, forests of all ages, large maple, oak, ash, hickory, hemlock, and white pine trees, and grasslands that provide nesting sites for numerous bird species (including species that have been identified as species of Greatest Conservation Need, and corridors for wildlife and species movement, adaptability, and resiliency. It is truly spectacular.

These 2 parcels now make up the 913-acre Deer Run Nature Preserve. The Preserve spans the Dummerston, Newfane and Brookline areas of Windham County, Vermont.

This land is one of the last remaining unfragmented large parcels in the region. It is remarkable for its tall hardwoods, hemlock-filled ravines, stunning views, stone walls and a curious rock structure known as “the monument”. It includes deer wintering yards and a variety of forest types including hardwood savannas and hemlock “cathedrals”. There are several wetlands and vernal pools that host a variety of amphibians including the rare Jefferson Salamander.

The site is a haven for over 70 species of birds (view bird list here) including birds that are listed “in greatest need of conservation” in the Vermont Conservation Design. Two transmission lines cross the preserve, which ecologists and botanists recognize as valuable early-successional/shrub-scrub habitat that these rights-of-way provide. Birds that have been declining in Vermont — brown thrasher, wood thrush, field sparrow, prairie warbler, mourning warbler, woodcock, the red-shouldered hawk, and the bald eagle — were among those found in numbers during a preliminary site survey conducted by two ornithologists. Over the summers the Indigo Buntings singing is truly enchanting.

One of the few large forested blocks left in this area, conservation will protect its aesthetic values, biodiversity, natural resiliency, and its ability to sequester carbon. Conservation of this forested parcel will provide for approximately 1,674 tons of carbon sequestration annually.

Connecticut River in AutumnThis is a key watershed area. The Green Mountain Conservancy will protect and improve the quality of surface waters, specifically the West River, by managing the fields and forest lands that have frontage on the river to ensure that the water is kept free of pollutants, to prevent erosion, to ameliorate the effects of flooding, to protect the wildlife, aquatic and botanical species that are native to this river line area, and to eliminate invasive species that may be threatening the riverbanks and the quality of the water. To do this, they will follow the management guidelines described in the Vermont Conservation Design, and take action as directed by the Vermont State Agency of Natural Resources.

This area will be open to the public for hiking, birdwatching, educational activities, and hunting (with written permission). Public trails have been blazed and more are in development

The Green Mountain Conservancy has been supported by Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Conservation Alliance, the Nature Conservancy, conservationists, community members and fundraising campaigns to be able to purchase and conserve these wild lands . Donations are gratefully accepted.

Deer Run Nature Preserve Trailhead and Directions

The Deer Run Nature Preserve offers public trails consisting of 2.6 miles of low-gradient footpath (5.2 miles round trip for all trails.)  The the “Monument” is 2.2 miles from the trailhead, or 4.4 miles round trip. The trails take you from “beauty spot” to “beauty spot”- waterfalls, babbling brooks, ancient trees, stone walls, hardwood savannas and spectacular views.

From Route 30 cross the Dummerston Covered Bridge then turn left onto Camp Arden Road.  Coming on the East West Road from Dummerston Center, go straight at the stop sign instead of crossing the bridge. About 1/2 mile from the Covered Bridge bear left at the fork in the road and follow the river. Continue for another mile. The trailhead is clearly marked and there is a gated parking area.  After parking, look for the blue trail markers.

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