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Burlington Free Press 12/24/13
by Dorothy Pellett, Free Press Correspondent
A December gift of land will benefit the University of Vermont, the Vermont Land Trust and a host of hikers and students of nature.
The family of the late Henry H. Carse of Hinesburg has donated easements on 225 acres to the Vermont Land Trust for permanent conservation and public access, and at the same time donated the property to the university.
Diverse natural attributes make the land, located between Baldwin Road and Silver Street, a valuable site for study, while its views and peaceful surroundings appeal to walkers along Baldwin Road.
“The property’s wetland, calcium-rich ledges and uplands have an impressive mix of uncommon species and forest types, including a red maple/northern white cedar swamp,” said Bob Heiser, Champlain Valley Regional co-director of the land trust.
Along with 121 acres of wetlands, Hinesburg’s largest wetland area, the site comprises 63 acres of woodland with a maple-ash-hickory-oak forest and a transition hardwood limestone forest; 41 acres of agriculturally important soils; rare plant species and habitat for beaver, moose, bobcats, birds and other varied wildlife.
UVM students have used part of the area to observe plant communities on the eastern cliffs of the property. Now they and the rest of the public will have pedestrian access to the donated land. “The area contains natural communities and biodiversity elements not found on other UVM-owned lands,” said Rick Paradis, director of UVM’s Natural Areas Center.
Paradis said he recently has brought classes to the site to study the potential for managing it for conservation purposes and for developing visitor facilities such as trails.
“I am also coordinating a UVM process to determine if the site warrants being added to the UVM Natural Areas System,” Paradis said. “Final approval for this action will need to be made by the Board of Trustees.”
Carse purchased the land in the 1970s. He farmed, served in the Vermont Legislature and as town moderator and school director.
“Our basic interests were clear: to preserve the natural treasures of the land while providing public access and educational programs,” said Carse’s son, Henry Ralph Carse. The land has been owned by the Carse Land Company, LLC. The transfer of easements and land took place last week, Heiser said.
The Vermont Land Trust will be responsible for monitoring the land to ensure that ecologically sensitive areas are not disturbed and that the property is used for educational and research purposes.
Hinesburg Land Trust member Lenore Budd said she frequently walks on Baldwin Road and observes the Carse land, but it was posted as off-limits to the public, and she could have only “a tantalizing glimpse” of the beaver pond.
Budd said the Carse family’s generosity will be felt for many years as visitors enjoy and learn from nature. She added, “It is fitting that this transfer of ownership is happening during this season of giving.”