Conservation project preserves land north of Bristol from development

BRISTOL — The Vermont Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy this week announced they have completed the first phase of the Bristol Gateway Conservation Project. The two organizations had been working with the community on the project for many years and recently completed a successful local fundraising campaign. Now the 346-acre Farr property — comprising farmland, forest, and a natural area — is protected from future development.
The second phase of the project, the conservation of the adjacent Fuller farm, will be completed in early summer.
As part of project, Trent and Abby Roleau purchased 321 acres of the Farr farm and plan to build a new house and start a diversified farm. They hope to sell sustainably raised meat and dairy products to the local community. Their purchase and conservation of the farm was part of the land trust’s Farmland Access Program, which connects new farmers with affordable farmland.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to purchase a farm through the Vermont Land Trust,” said Trent Roleau. “We wouldn’t have been able to buy it without conserving the land and we really appreciate everyone’s support. The farm is perfect for the diversified farm we plan to start.”
The landscape narrows dramatically to farm fields on both sides of Route 116 and then it quickly transitions to steep forested hills. The Roleaus will manage the woods for sustainable harvesting. The forest will continue to provide valuable wildlife habitat.
“It is absolutely essential to keep these healthy, productive, and beautiful lands working for all of us while connecting the larger landscape for generations to come.” said David Brynn, founding forester, Vermont Family Forests.
As part of the project, The Nature Conservancy purchased 25 acres of Deer Leap Cliff. The cliff includes the spectacular Table Rock overlook and offers important nesting areas for peregrine falcons. Since peregrines were reintroduced to the state over 25 years ago, 52 chicks have fledged on Deer Leap Cliff.
“We already own abutting land so this acquisition completes the protection of this ecologically important cliff site and iconic backdrop to the village of Bristol,” said Jon Binhammer of The Nature Conservancy.
Baldwin Creek tumbles down from the Starksboro hills and flows through the Farr and Fuller farms before joining the New Haven River. The Farr Farm has nearly three-quarters of a mile of frontage on the creek. The newly conserved land includes a protected vegetated buffer that keeps the water shaded and cool for fish and helps prevent erosion during flood events.
“Supporting these working farms and forests is an important investment in our town’s future, as well as a meaningful way to celebrate the working landscape that is so much a part of Bristol’s cultural heritage,” said Kristen Underwood, a member of the Bristol Conservation Commission and campaign committee member.
Funding for the conservation easement was provided by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the town of Bristol, National Bank of Middlebury, Vermont Folk Rocker, and over 200 individual supporters and businesses.

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