Over the past three decades, the Vermont Land Trust has conserved more than a half-million acres. This milestone—reached in 2009—offers us much to celebrate:
More than 900 farms or farmland parcels operated by innovative farmers committed to the future of farming.
Hundreds of families who decided that their land was meant to be a farm, a forest, or a family legacy.
Dozens of communities that have chosen to protect a special place.
Conservation has given an enormous and sustaining boost to Vermont's tourism and agricultural economy.
For some, land conservation has meant being able to buy their first farm.
For others, conservation helped them pass their land on to their kids and still have some retirement money in the bank.
In communities across the state, conservation has saved swimming holes, created town forests, or preserved the view that says to many, "I'm home."
Protecting Our Best Land from Subdivision and Development
The heart of the Vermont Land Trust's work is simple: making sure Vermont's best land remains undeveloped and unsubdivided—in other words, intact and available for all of the ways Vermonters have always connected to, and made their living from, the land.
In a handful of instances, we own land. For the most part, however, VLT-conserved land is owned by private landowners. In these cases, what we own is a conservation easement—a legal tool that limits development.
Landowners continue to own, manage, and pay taxes on their property and can sell it; however, the conservation easement, and its restrictions, will always be attached to the land.
By holding a conservation easement, we accept the responsibility to safeguard—for the benefit of all Vermonters and visitors to Vermont—the provisions contained in the easement.
The Land We've Chosen to Conserve
The Vermont Land Trust started as a small community effort to conserve one farm. Since then, we have made it a priority to keep high-quality farmland available to today's farmers and the famers of generations to come.
We look to conserve well-run farms of significant size that have good soil quality. In the case of some smaller farms we've conserved, we look to those that contribute to the economy, heritage or character of a community, or that demonstrate innovative agricultural enterprises. We also conserve the hayland and cropland that supports these farms. Read more about our farmland conservation.
Over 80 percent of Vermont's forestland is owned by private landowners—around 80,000 of them. Nearly a thousand of these landowners have decided to join with us to protect their forestland from fragmentation and ensure the viability of our timber economy.
We look to conserve well-managed forestland for its timber production capabilities, biological attributes (such as habitat protection), and the recreational benefits this land provides. Read more about forestland conservation.
Town forests, swimming holes, sledding hills, trails, ball fields—these are the places that help make a community, that give residents a sense of place. We have worked with dozens of towns and families to conserve places that are important to a community. Read more about community conservation.
Our Work with Natural Resources and Equity
We find that landowners take pride in the natural features of their property— river corridors, forests, wetlands, vernal pools—and can often tell us what animals and plants frequent these special places. Since 2004, we've incorporated special provisions to some of our conservation easements to protect ecological features. Read more about our ecological work.
Opportunity & Fairness
Vital communities depend on broad access to affordable and healthy food, clean air and water, safe and affordable housing, and the spiritual and recreational benefits of land. Whether it is a farm, forest, or community open space, we strive to consider these factors that benefit everyone in a community. Some of our most exciting conservation projects have been those that have had such broad benefits. Read more about conservation and equity.
Whether it is a farm, forest or community open space, VLT has conserved nearly 2,000 independent places across the state that we can't bear to lose.