Julie and Peter Parker recently protected their family forest in Granville by permanently conserving 544 acres with the Vermont Land Trust. The Parkers are most at home in the woods of Vermont. As part-time residents of California with deep ties to Vermont, they return every spring to rushing streams and blooming wildflowers in the forest behind their farmhouse on North Hollow Road in Granville.

When they learned through a recent Harvard study that New England is losing forestland at a rate of 65 acres each day, the Parker family felt compelled to protect their forest from this fate. So, they donated the development rights on their property to the Vermont Land Trust.

“Conservation is a great complement to the Parkers’ stewardship,” said Liza Walker of the Vermont Land Trust. “Together, the land trust and the Parker family can make sure these woods remain healthy, undeveloped and available for forestry and wildlife.”

“Healthy forests check erosion and are a filtration system for clean water,” Peter elaborated. “They sequester carbon. Well-stewarded woodlands provide the world’s most environmentally friendly building material, wood, which is renewable indefinitely.”

In 1980 the Parkers bought their first property in Granville: a 187-acre hill farm on the western slope of the Braintree Mountains, with an 1840 Greek Revival farmhouse. Over the next few decades, the Parkers purchased adjoining lands, several of which had been heavily logged, and focused on restoring the forest’s value for wildlife and timber. While Peter pruned apple trees and studied growth in their white pine plantation, Julie spearheaded spring bird counts on the land with the Mad River Birders.

“It has been inspiring to renew a badly cut-over woodland and, with many harvests of substandard trees, to watch it emerge over the years into a valuable and vigorous forest that maintains healthy habitat for birds and wildlife,” stated Peter. “Knowing this will continue in perpetuity through the Vermont Land Trust is comforting as development creep leads slowly to extinction of more and more species.”

The forest borders the Braintree Gap Road, a Class IV road, plus interior forest roads that are available for public, non-motorized recreation such as skiing and walking. Their land has streams, wetlands, and a sensitive, high-elevation forest of spruce and fir trees along the Braintree Mountains.

Now that Peter, Julie, and their daughters have conserved their 544-acre property, they can rest assured that their family forest will stay productive for future generations. The Parkers hope to encourage other landowners to help protect Vermont’s forested landscape. “Leaving this land we love conserved is part of our contribution to the world’s ‘inheritance,’ said Julie. “It’s a small gift that will not be converted to development, thanks to the partnership between us Parkers and the Vermont Land Trust.”