For immediate release: January 28, 2012
Conservation of 486-acre property is Vermont Land Trust’s first project in Waterford
Waterford -- Cynthia Rankin and Geoffrey O’Brien donated a conservation easement on 486 acres of woodland located across from their home in Waterford, the Vermont Land Trust announced.
The couple bought the property 10 years ago because they were drawn to the land’s natural features, which they wanted to ensure were protected for generations to come.
Since then, Cynthia and Geoffrey have developed a forest stewardship plan, converted old logging roads to pedestrian trails, mapped ecologically sensitive areas, allowed the woods to regenerate, and now permanently protected the property with the Vermont land trust.
“We fell in love with this land the first time we walked it,” said Cynthia. “It is exciting to know it will always be here for anyone to walk on and enjoy as we did that first time.” She adds, “Since owning the land we’ve come to realize how fragile the soils and wetlands are, which was also part of the reason we felt it was important to protect this land.”
The newly conserved land is located several hundred feet from the confluence of Chandler Brook and the Connecticut River at Comerford Reservoir. With 50 acres of wetlands, and nearly four miles of stream and brook frontage, the land is an aquatic jewel. It supports many species of fish and contributes to the water quality of the Connecticut River.
The land also encompasses the summit and slopes of Chamberlain Mountain.
Cynthia and Geoff’s property is the second-largest privately owned parcel in Waterford and is the first property protected by the Vermont Land Trust in the town.
“When I first met Cynthia and Geoffrey, it was obvious how much they cared for this woodland and its health,” said Tracy Zschau. “A conservation easement that protects this special place for future Vermonters was a very logical step for them.”
Chandler Brook is important habitat for a variety of fish species. The brook’s confluence with the reservoir creates conditions that draw many species common to the reservoir, making the area very popular with anglers. It is likely that some species enter the brook for spawning, including rainbow trout and brown trout, and may depend on its lower reaches for spawning and early life stages.
“The aquatic habitat and fish populations of Chandler Brook and the receiving Connecticut River stand to benefit in a big way from this project,” said Lenny Gerardi, Fisheries Biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The Department applauds Cynthia Rankin and Geoff O'Brien for making this generous gift of a conservation easement on this valuable land resource,”
The Rankin-O’Briens protected their land by generously donating the conservation easement, which will permanently restrict development on the property. Other costs associated with the project were covered by grants from the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund (administered by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation) and the Freeman Foundation.