Letter to the editor: Fish & Wildlife corrects record on possible land deal
An article in this paper on March 24 regarding the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s proposed purchase of the Kimball Brook Farm in Ferrisburgh contained some inaccuracies that I would like to correct.
First, the article stated that the department may move forward with the purchase without the town’s backing. The department does not acquire land without support from the town where a project is located, and has no plans to do so in Ferrisburgh. The department does hope to keep working with Ferrisburgh residents and the selectboard to gain the support necessary to move forward on this project as a good neighbor.
Second, I want to address the understandable fear that a sale to the department would remove Kimball Brook Farm from Ferrisburgh’s tax roll, using taxpayer dollars. The funds to purchase and manage Kimball Brook Farm would come from a federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, not from Vermont tax dollars. These federal funds are specifically dedicated for improving water quality in Lake Champlain through wetland conservation and restoration. Additionally, under department ownership Kimball Brook Farm would remain on the Ferrisburgh tax roll. In cases like this, the state’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program compensates towns for state-owned land at a rate equivalent to the municipal rate a private owner would pay.
Third, I want to be clear that concerns the department would remove Kimball Brook Farm from agricultural production are unwarranted. Under the department’s proposal, the portions of Kimball Brook Farm with high quality agricultural soils would be licensed to local farmers. The department uses this approach at Wildlife Management Areas around Vermont including Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison and Lemon Fair Wildlife Management Area in Bridport. The department supports agricultural interests in Vermont and works hard to be a helpful, supportive neighbor in agricultural communities where we are a landowner.
Any time the department acquires interests in land, a top priority for us is to be a good neighbor and a positive part of the community. That means we work hard to address the concerns, and respect the wishes, of residents and officials in towns where we own property. Our approach to Kimball Brook Farm would be no different.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife
Editor’s note: Will Duane is the Land Acquisition Coordinator at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department who is managing the Kimball Brook Farm proposal.
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