In the agricultural Mettowee Valley, flat riverbottom farmland gently rises toward the steep, forested slopes of the Taconic Mountains. Downslope movement of limestone and other soil nutrients help make this valley exceptionally productive. Carol Neilson’s land is a great example of the forested hillsides that frame the Mettowee Valley. Her land has several tributaries to the Mettawee River and a quarter-mile of forested frontage on the river itself, making the property especially important for water quality and plant and animal habitat. Her forestland rises up from valley to elevations of 1,450 feet and is surrounded by thousands of acres of conserved land—both farms and working forests, including the Merck Forest and Farmland Center. Carol’s forest was one of the last large, unconserved properties in the Derby Hill portion of the Taconic range.

Carol and a local dairy farmer are working to get a maple sugaring operation going on the property. To help with this endeavor, Carol sold a conservation easement on 215 acres for significantly less than full value. The easement ensures that the land along the river will remain forested. It also protects two small stretches of Dry Oak-Hickory-Hophornbeam Forest, an open and savannah-like forest that is an important source of food for wildlife and is uncommon in Vermont.

Funded by the Lookout Foundation and the New York Community Trust.