VICTORY, VERMONT (DECEMBER 13, 2023) – The Open Space Institute and the Trust for Public Land are proud to announce the conservation of 1,230 acres of Victory Hill in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The region is known for world-class recreation opportunities and plays a key role in protecting a biological hotspot.
The conservation of Victory Hill was supported through a grant from the Open Space Institute’s Transborder Fund. The Fund was established to protect the ecologically significant forests of the Northern Appalachian/Acadian region, an 80-million-acre region spanning the eastern edge of North America and the boundaries of the United States and Canada. Launched in 2009, the Transborder Fund encourages international cooperation between government agencies, land trusts, and other stakeholders to best protect land and wildlife across the U.S.-Canadian border.
Led by the landowner and Trust for Public Land, a new conservation easement and habitat restoration plan will support and enhance sensitive and important land and waters --including mature floodplain forest, white cedar swamps and montane spruce forest. The property lies amidst 27,000 acres of extensive wetland complexes and habitat for rare and endangered species comprising the Victory State and Darling State forests, and the Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area.
The area is critical to regional wildlife connectivity for its role in providing a corridor from the northeast corner of Vermont to northern New Hampshire and Mount Megantic in southern Quebec, and east to the forests of Maine and Moosehead Lake. The new conservation easement will protect upper elevation spruce-fir stands, and low elevation wetland areas around Weir Mill Brook for restoration and wildlife recovery. These protections will also serve as a natural climate tool able to sequester carbon and absorb floodwaters, safeguarding downstream communities – a particular point of concern following the devastating flooding throughout Vermont in the summer of 2023.
The restoration plan also will target recovery of the American marten, which is endangered in the State of Vermont, and only occurs in small numbers in the Northeast Kingdom and a small patch in the southern Green Mountains. Other declining species, such as blackburnian warbler, wood thrush, Louisiana water thrush and Northern waterthrush, will benefit from the conservation practices put into place through this easement.
In addition to its ecological importance, Victory Hill is a destination for the renowned recreational trail network at the center of the property, offering mountain biking, hiking, and backcountry skiing trails. The new 592-acre easement surrounding the network preserves the trail system’s viewsheds and provides refuge for wildlife affected by trail usage.
“The success at Victory Hill is a prime example of how conservation can help deliver a variety of benefits, from climate resilience and wildlife connectivity to strengthening recreation opportunities that can raise awareness of this incredible natural area as well as contribute positively to nearby local economies,” said Shelby Semmes, Vice President of New England Region at Trust for Public Land.
The project was also supported by the Long Island Sound Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Canaday Foundation, Upper Connecticut River Mitigation Enhancement Grant, and the Lintilhac Foundation.