Nancy Pierson donated a conservation easement on 111 acres of forest and farmland at the foot of Haystack Mountain. Nancy and her husband, James, along with their five daughters, have spent nearly three decades caring for and improving this picturesque corner of Pawlet. American Milking Devon cattle from an adjacent farm can be seen grazing their pastures, while a tributary of the Mettowee River flows through the woods. There are also valuable wetland habitat and other delicate natural communities.

The property is near a large stretch of forest owned by The Nature Conservancy and the North Pawlet Hills Natural Area. Located within this ecologically and geologically interesting area, the Pierson land has its own natural intrigue: A deposit of extremely fine clay, too sticky to wash away all at once, changes water in the Mettowee tributary from crystal clear to cloudy grey. Clay like this isn’t common in the area—it’s possible the valley may have held a smaller glacial lake, but further exploration is needed to be sure.

Stream with clay deposit on Pierson property in Pawlet, Vermont.

A deposit of extremely fine clay, too sticky to wash away all at once, changes water in the Mettowee tributary from crystal clear to cloudy grey.