A Place for the Birds

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The Lands of the Watershed Center have been a cherished part of the Center-West Ecoregion ever since a group of community members jumped into action to purchase the Vergennes Waterworks when it came on the market in 1995. The acreage of this conserved area in Bristol and New Haven has grown over the years—from the original 665-acre Waterworks parcel, to its current 1,001 acres, which includes three additional parcels that border the western edge of the Waterworks—the 92-acre Lost Pond Forest, 194-acre Middle Forest, and 50-acre Merritt Heights Forest. 

The Lost Pond and Middle forests were conveyed to The Watershed Center with conservation easements held by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. These easements articulate a central intention to conserve biological diversity and wildlife habitat. More specifically, the easement specifies an intention to protect particular at-risk wildlife species—namely the Indiana bat (federally and state-designated as endangered) and the Eastern ratsnake (state-designated as threatened). 

To do this, the easements specify and delimit allowed uses. In terms of public access, the easements state that the land shall be available to the public for non-commercial, non-motorized, non-mechanized, non-equestrian dispersed wildlife-based recreation. So, in a nutshell, allowed recreation on these western parcels is more limited than on the 665-acres Waterworks parcel. 

To help clarify the boundaries for these differing recreation uses, Vermont Family Forests collaborated with The Watershed Center to produce a small sign that we’ve hung at points on the property where a trail enters either the Lost Pond Forest or Middle Forest. Take a look!

(Click on the photo below to see an enlarged PDF of the sign.)

This sign greets visitors when they enter the Lost Pond Forest and Middle Forest parcels at the Lands of the Watershed Center. Click on photo to see sign close-up.