Highland Lodge Conservation Easement

David and Wilhelmina Smith, owners of Highland Lodge in Greensboro, recently fulfilled a dream to conserve, in perpetuity, 76 acres west of Craftsbury Road and south of North Shore Road. At a ceremony in Highland Lodge, the Smiths met with Tracy Zschau, conservation director of the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), and Julie Curtin, VLT attorney, to sign a conservation easement agreement with the land trust.
The agreement provides that the Smiths and future owners of the Lodge will not develop the lakeside portion of the Lodge property. It excepts a half-acre parcel on the Caspian Lake shore that will provide beach rights to future Lodge owners and some of the adjoining camp owners, but restricts use of the remaining forest and wetland only for open space uses like forestry, agriculture, recreation and education. At the signing, David Smith said: "This conservation easement allows us to preserve our natural living environment for everyone to enjoy."
The conservation easement was professionally appraised at $282,000, the bulk of which the Smiths donated as a charitable donation to the land trust. About one quarter of the value was provided by contributions from two foundations, the Greensboro Land Trust, and the Town of Greensboro through the Greensboro Conservation Fund, at the request of the Greensboro Conservation Commission. The property contains the Porter Brook Natural Area, where Greensboro residents have hiked in previous years, and which summer workshops for children have visited. Its interior path has also served as a snowshoe trail.
The easement does not guarantee future public access to the area, but it is hoped that future Lodge owners will want to maintain the trail and allow public access. The easement includes a 22-acre wetland protection zone, and riparian buffer zones along Porter Brook that will protect water quality and aquatic habitat The VLT representatives congratulated the Smiths on their dedication to conservation of a beautiful natural area, and Clive Gray, clerk of the Greensboro Conservation Commission and Greensboro Land Trust chair, said the selectboard had instructed him to convey its gratitude to the Smiths. The Smiths have been excellent stewards of their property for many years," said the VLT’s Tracy Zschau. "It is gratifying to join them in ensuring that these sensitive and scenic areas will be protected for the long term."

Project Contact: 
Clive Gray
Project Contact Email: 
Town: 
Greensboro
Regional Planning Commision: 
Northeastern Vermont Development Association
Year Project Started: 
2015
Year Completed: 
2016
Project Lifespan: 
2015-16
Keywords: 
Land Protection
Other Keywords: 
Conservation easement
Project Accomplishments: 

[see description above]

Project Partners: 

David and Willie Smith, Highland Lodge
Vermont Land Trust
Freeman Foundation
Stony Point Foundation
Greensboro Land Trust
Greensboro Conservation Commission
Greensboro Selectboard

Critical to Success: 
The most important element was the dedication of David and Willie Smith to conserving their land, and their willingness to swallow most of the value of the conservation easement as a charitable contribution to the Vermont Land Trust.
Challenges: 
The main challenge was to attract sufficient donations to account for about one-fifth of the value of the easement.
Associated Projects: