Over the past 5 years, UVLT has conserved 105 properties encompassing about 12,000 acres. Twenty-one of these properties, like the Sweet parcel, were conserved through the purchase of a conservation easement. These purchased conservation easements protect lands that had been a community’s highest priority and/or resources considered significant statewide or nationally. To conserve these properties, UVLT used over $3 million awarded by state and federal agencies, town conservation funds and private foundations. The future of this funding is now in peril.
The conservation of the Sweet parcel may be the last project of its kind for some time, if Governor Douglas’ proposed budget is passed by the legislature. The proposal includes completely eliminating funding for the conservation portion of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s budget. Without funding to purchase easements, conservation work will become dependent on the ability of landowners to donate easements—this will severely limit the ability of the Upper Valley Land Trust, and other recipients of VHCB funding to protect Vermont’s working landscape.
UVLT has joined forces with a coalition of conservancies in Vermont to advocate for the continuance of state funding for the preservation of more working farms like the Sweets. The state and the region cannot afford to lose these vital elements of the local economy, especially during this difficult time. For more information about the “Conservation Can’t Wait” campaign, please visit http://www.vlt.org/.