Land abutting Hamilton Falls, Jamaica State Park conserved

Part of Turkey Mountain Brook in southern Vermont has been conserved. Photo by Jon Binhammer/The Nature Conservancy
(This story by Bob Audette was published by the Brattleboro Reformer on Jan. 12, 2018.)
More than 800 acres abutting the Hamilton Falls Natural Area will be allowed to grow wild after The Nature Conservancy purchased a parcel from The Conservation Fund.
“The property will be available for hunting and fishing but not for forestry,” said Jon Binhammer, director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy. Binhammer said allowing nature to take its course on the property will provide for “greater structural diversity,” meaning that fauna and flora will be allowed to flourish without being affected by forestry activities, such as logging.
About a year ago, said Binhammer, The Conservation Fund, a national environmental nonprofit group, purchased 30,000 acres in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
“Most recently, we’ve helped the U.S. Forest Service acquire two large parcels of forestland, totaling 1,270 acres, that anchor the east and west boundaries of the Green Mountain National Forest,” says The Conservation Fund’s website. “To the east, the 452-acre Jamaica Trust property protects important fish and wildlife habitat, recreational resources, and the Massey Brook watershed.”
“This parcel was a priority for us,” Binhammer said. “We worked with The Conservation Fund to make this happen.”
The 800 acres The Nature Conservancy purchased from The Conservation Fund also abuts Jamaica State Park, which the conservancy helped establish in 1969.
“The recent acquisition, together with the existing Hamilton Falls Natural Area, protects a thousand acres of contiguous forest, an unusual red oak-red spruce natural community, vernal pools, a portion of Turkey Mountain Brook and the peak of Turkey Mountain,” said a news release announcing the purchase.
The Vermont properties most recently purchased by The Conservation Fund were bought from a privately held forestry firm.
Keeping the newest parcel unmanaged also helps to address concerns that came flooding into the region as a result of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, said Binhammer.
“This is a watershed area for the West River,” he said. Part of The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to address flood resiliency and to protect areas that have wetlands that absorb water and allow stormwater to flow gently rather than rush destructively through a landscape.
“When we began it was to help protect the West River and create Jamaica State Park, but now it is about stitching together a resilient landscape for wildlife and people in a changing climate,” stated Heather Furman, The Nature Conservancy’s Vermont state director, in the news release. “We are as focused on protecting a mountain as we are in building a future where nature and people thrive.”
The majority of the property consists of red oak northern hardwood forest which provides habitat for deer, turkey, black bear and bobcat. The wildlife diversity of the parcel is mirrored by the habitat diversity, with wetlands and vernal pools providing food for wildlife in the spring, black cherry, basswood and berries abundant with food in the summer, and oaks and beech offering food in the fall.
“Walking through this forest offers a glimpse into the rich Abenaki history and the wildlife resources that would have brought them to this place along the West River for food and shelter,” said Binhammer. “We plan to steward the property in that spirit for future generations.”
Turkey Mountain, which is now a part of the conservancy’s Upper West River Landscape Natural Area, is considered by the group’s scientists to be a “natural stronghold” that is predicted to help plants, wildlife, and people withstand the growing impacts of climate change. Nature’s strongholds represent resilient landscapes that allow species to move as they adapt to changing temperatures.
The Turkey Mountain Project was supported by conservancy members, The Bafflin Foundation, The Holborn Foundation and the Open Space Institute’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative, which is made possible with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The Resilient Landscapes Initiative seeks to build capacity of land trusts working to respond to climate change.
Read the story on VTDigger here: Land abutting Hamilton Falls, Jamaica State Park conserved.