Upper Valley Land Trust Recognizes Local Land Stewards

The Bradford Conservation Commission was recognized at the Upper Valley Land Trust’s Volunteer Appreciation Open House on November 10th. The Conservation Commission received an award from the Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT) for the dedication they bring to their work as stewards of the Wright’s Mountain and Devil’s Den trails. In addition to giving UVLT the opportunity to recognize standout volunteers, the event gave the regional land conservancy’s volunteers, staff and trustees a chance to discuss experiences from the field while sharing a warm meal and some of Jasper Murdock’s Ale brewed by Patrick Dakin at the Norwich Inn.

The event recognized UVLT’s more than 55 stewardship volunteers, who assist in activities such as trail maintenance, campsite upkeep, and conservation easement monitoring across the 44 towns that comprise UVLT’s region. Volunteers who help UVLT to monitor conservation easements walk around conserved properties and document any changes to the landscape. These walks are performed annually on the nearly 400 parcels that have been conserved with UVLT. In addition to the time and energy that stewardship volunteers contribute, dozens more volunteers assist UVLT with events, advocacy, various committees, photography and a variety of in-kind donations.

According to UVLT’s President, Jeanie McIntyre, “UVLT was created and is sustained by volunteers, who are rolling up their sleeves, lacing up their boots, sharing their time and ideas to make a greener future for our region. We are so glad to recognize all they accomplish and happy to invite more people to get involved.”

At this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Open House, UVLT chose to honor the Bradford Conservation Commission. The Commission is responsible for the maintenance of the Wright’s Mountain and Devil’s Den trails, owned by the Town of Bradford and conserved with UVLT. Under their stewardship, trails have blossomed into a well-loved community resource.

Monica Erhart, UVLT’s Stewardship Coordinator, remarks “I have been extremely impressed by the time, energy, and care that the Bradford Conservation Commission puts into their trails. Their dedication to the Wright’s Mountain and Devil’s Den properties is a model among town efforts. The few members of the Conservation Commission not only put incredible amounts of time into the trails themselves, but their ability to recruit volunteers has been remarkable.” Chair of the Bradford Conservation Commission, Nancy Jones, said that the work of stewarding Wright’s Mountain and Devil’s Den is dependent on more than the eight individuals who make up the Conservation Commission; community volunteers are essential to the Commission’s success.

The 15-year anniversary celebration of the conservation of Wright’s Mountain this June recognized the many people who have been recruited by the Commission over the years. During this event, members of the Commission hung photos of volunteers along a newly-opened trail. “There must have been several hundred photos,” Erhart remembers, “and members of the Conservation Commission could tell a story of each of the various helpers from the past.”

Especially noteworthy is the Bradford Conservation Commission’s innovation in their encouragement of responsible use of the property. “The Bradford Conservation Commission never runs into an obstacle and simply decides that their efforts cannot be accomplished,” Erhart says. “Instead, they pull their resources together, get people rallied up, and find solutions that are suitable for everyone.” The Commission has rallied together to restore the old cabin at the summit of Wright’s Mountain, which provides a comfortable shelter. Along the trails are a number of benches, each with a name engraved. These serve the dual purpose of thanking contributors to the Commission’s conservation and stewardship efforts while also giving hikers places to rest.

In order to join the Upper Valley Land Trust as a volunteer on a trail team, as a campsite steward, or a conservation easement monitor, please contact Peter Helm, Vice President Stewardship at peter.helm@uvlt.org or (603) 643-6626 ext. 104. Spring monitor training dates will be posted at http://www.uvlt.org/ in early 2009. To assist UVLT with events or other outreach activities, please contact Nora Doyle-Burr at noradoyle-burr@uvlt.org or (603) 643-6626 ext. 102.