October 23, Barre — At a recent statewide conference, The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) honored Tracy Zschau of the Vermont Land Trust with the John Nutting Community Catalyst Award for her work on Bluffside Farm on the shores of Lake Memphremagog in Newport, and for her conservation work in the Northeast Kingdom over 22 years.
“Bluffside is very special for the community of Newport, for Vermont’s recreational economy, and for the ecology of the lake,” said Gus Seelig, Executive Director of VHCB. “In a region of the state that is seeking to grow, this project is a great example of Tracy’s exceptional ability to engage local leaders, build support for community projects, and move them forward.”
In partnership with the City of Newport, VLT has been raising funds to build a bridge and bike path on the farm, connecting it to downtown Newport and with a recreational corridor that extends to the Canadian border.
“VLT’s involvement in Bluffside Farm was a turning point for Newport’s emerging outdoor recreation economy,” said Jessica Booth, Newport Parks and Recreation Director. “Tracy’s involvement has been a key to our success in developing connected bike paths around the lake.”
Facing a foreclosure auction in 2015, the Scott family, who had owned and cared for the property for many years approached VLT in hope of protecting the land. After news of the foreclosure became public and the community spoke out in support of conservation, VLT purchased the farm.
With several large fields, mature forest and ecologically important sites, the 129-acre property sits between two unconnected recreational paths inside the city limits. Given its significance, Zschau and others at VLT have worked tirelessly to collaborate with the community in establishing a vision for its future that protects the fields and forest while advancing community goals around recreation, education and economic development.
“This award is a shared honor with so many at VLT and the City of Newport who have played roles in our evolving and expanding work at Bluffside Farm,” said Tracy Zschau. “This project has taught us so much about the power of collective impact. Thank you VHCB for supporting our work in Newport and for recognizing its significance.”