Don and Bonnie Bullard worked with the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation to permanently conserve over 1,400 acres of working forest in Hyde Park and Eden. The forestland was protected with funding from the federal Forest Legacy Program.

Bullard Lumber, which first began operation in the 1800s, was known for a unique processing method that turned green maple into golf tees at a mill in North Hyde Park. During the 1950s and ’60s, the company was the largest golf tee manufacturer in the world, producing a half million tees per day. These days, the mill is gone but the family is still very connected to its forestland.

When Vernon Bullard passed away at the age of 93 in 2013, the Bullard family faced a dilemma many families in the state face when forestland is passed down to the next generation—what to do when there are multiple heirs and not everyone wants to continue owning the land?

Don, Vernon’s son, and his wife, Bonnie, decided to sell a conservation easement on 1,412 acres to the state. This will allow them to purchase the land from other family members and keep it as one parcel. “We saw the sale of an easement as a way to keep the land in the family and continue managing it as we have for more than 100 years,” said Don. The Bullards and their two sons sugar a portion of the property and manage the remainder for timber.

“Thanks to the Bullard family, this land has played an important and valuable role in Vermont’s past and we are thrilled that this Forest Legacy conservation project ensures that it will continue to provide working forests, important habitat, and public recreational access forever,” said Michael Snyder, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

The federal Forest Legacy Program, which funded the purchase of the conservation easement, was started in 1990 through the efforts of Senator Leahy. The Green River Reservoir State Park borders the Bullard forestland to the east, and a large privately owned parcel lies to the west—both of these properties were conserved through the Forest Legacy Program.

“It is gratifying and inspiring to see a critical forest conservation project like this come to fruition, reflecting both the important goals of the Forest Legacy Program and the broader conservation strategy in Vermont,” remarked Senator Leahy. “This project will strategically link together other important conservation lands to achieve an even larger conservation effect in the region.”

“The Bullard family’s connection and commitment to this forestland deserves great respect and appreciation, and so do the partners with the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation who have endured a complex legal and financial process to permanently protect these important working lands and resources,” he added.

Altogether, the conservation of the Bullard Lumber property connects 12,500 protected acres to the east with 48,000 protected acres to the west. See map.

The Vermont Land Trust worked with Bullards and the state to facilitate the project, and provided mapping and legal work.

“Conserving forestland that provides a critical connection between large protected properties will help wildlife, particularly wide-ranging species,” explained Carl Powden of the Vermont Land Trust. “These lands lie in a major internationally significant crossroads, both in the east–west direction as well as north–south.”

The land has nearly a mile of frontage on the Gihon River, a third of mile of frontage on Beaver Meadow Brook, more than four miles of frontage on unnamed streams plus 12 acres of wetlands. 

For a closer look at the Forest Legacy Program in Vermont and across the country, please view the documentary produced in 2016 by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation: “Forest Legacy – For Now and Forever – Celebrating the First 25 Years” on YouTube or by using this link: www.bit.ly/2mPQORf.