Stowe Land Trust has released a new Strategic Conservation Plan designed to guide the organization’s future land protection efforts.
SLT has been dedicated to protecting scenic, recreational and productive farm and forestland for the benefit of the Stowe community since 1987. “We pride ourselves on having clear criteria for which properties SLT works to protect,” said David Norden, chair of the land trust’s 21-member board of directors. “With this strategic plan complete we’re pleased to be sharing information about how and where we work with our many land conservation partners and the community.”
The plan lays out a vision for keeping Stowe a beautiful and healthy place to live and creates a case for the need to do additional strategic land conservation work in a town that has a strong track record of permanently protecting lands important to the community.
Fragmentation of private farm and forest lands – or the breaking up of these lands into smaller parcels that are then developed - emerged as a central threat to the future viability of Stowe’s working farms and forests, as well as to wildlife and recreational access. “Our analysis showed a clear common thread – that protecting the integrity of large, intact forest blocks is critical,” said Caitrin Maloney, SLT Executive Director. “These resources support our tourism economy, our native wildlife, and the quality of life we all enjoy. If they are eroded or lost, everyone suffers.”
SLT’s current project to conserve the Kaiser Farm in Nebraska Valley in partnership with Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program is a good example of the plan at work. According to Norden, this latest project is a great step toward meeting the land trust’s goal of protecting productive farmland that can support a thriving local food economy and is affordable to the next generation of farmers.
The plan’s focus on scenic and recreational resources will come as no surprise to those familiar with the land trust’s work. What might be new to people is the landscape-scale approach to prioritizing critical wildlife habitat and the spotlight on river corridor protection. “As climate change has emerged as a top threat to wildlife and our communities, we’ve adapted our conservation strategies in response,” said Maloney.
Copies of the plan are available at Stowe Land Trust office at 699 South Main Street, at community places around town, and online.