For immediate release: December 12, 2017

Landowner Protects Forest and Recreation Land for Future Generations

Elmore — Oneal “Sonny” Demars Jr. conserved over 1,000 acres of mostly forested land in Elmore with the Vermont Land Trust.

The land lies along both sides of the stonewall-lined Hardwood Flats Road. It contains two ponds with undeveloped shorelines: the 45-acre Hardwood Pond and 11-acre Little Pond. This area is part of an important forested wildlife corridor that connects habitat from the Adirondacks to the Gaspe Peninsula.

With its ridgelines, tributaries, beaver wetlands, rare rich fen, and meadow with views of the Worcester Range, the land is diverse and stunning. When asked why he wanted to protect it, Sonny simply said, “I just wanted the property to stay the way it is.”

Originally from Greensboro, VT, Sonny has had a successful career as a real estate developer in the Morrisville area. He bought a portion of his Elmore forestland in 1984; over the years, he added several more parcels.

Sonny’s land is an unheralded recreational treasure thanks to a carefully tended trail network that he established with help from friends and neighbors.

“Sonny really enjoys being on the land, whether he is out on the trails, hiking, hunting, skiing or sugaring,” said neighbor Betsy Perez. “He’s here almost every day. But what makes him happiest is seeing lots of families enjoying the land.”

Betsy’s husband, Dave Deciusies, does a lot of the trail grooming on Sonny’s land during the cross-country ski season. More than once, Dave said he has come home to a bottle of wine left on his steps as a thank you gift from trail users. Others leave donations at the Elmore Store to underwrite the cost of maintaining the trails.

“As part of permanently conserving this land and protecting it from development, Sonny also stipulated that the land would remain open to non-motorized public recreation, such as hiking and hunting,” explained Carl Powden of the Vermont Land Trust. “Sharing the forest with others is important to him.”

Conserving this land is an important part of a larger project that the land trust has been working on for several years.

“With the percent of forest-cover in Vermont going down, and more forestland being interrupted by roads and houses, VLT looked at the large blocks of core habitat and critical connecting corridors that we should try to protect,” explained Carl. “A 19,000-acre area in Worcester and Elmore was one of those places, and Sonny’s land is a key part of it.”

Over the past three years the Vermont Land Trust purchased nearly 7,000 adjoining acres from Deer Lake Timber, the E.B. Hyde Company and the Wolloch family. It also owns 1,940 acres in Elmore that are part of the Atlas Timberlands. Combined, these properties comprise a solid block of protected land that includes the Putnam State Forest and Elmore State Park to the west. All this forestland is managed for timber and is available for public recreation.