Belonging to Nature

UVLT has dedicated and renamed its property at Rix Ledges for Nicole Sage Cormen, a passionate naturalist and civic leader in Lebanon for more than 20 years until her death August 19, 2015 from endometrial cancer.

-By Jeanie McIntyre


When UVLT’s Trustees voted unanimously to dedicate the Nicole S. Cormen Memorial Nature Preserve, they commemorated Nicole’s deep love and knowledge of this place and her fierce protectiveness of it. Nicole knew the rocks and trees, the bear marks and deer scrapes, the pools and dens and outcrops. She was an ardent advocate for its protection and her field work collecting data was invaluable. At the same time, she was a guardian of its hidden treasures, mindful that human enjoyment too often means degradation and disrespect for plant and animal life. It is right that this place is named as a nature preserve as Nicole would have wished.

012 bouldar ridge

An outlook at the Nicole S. Cormen Memorial Nature Preserve


I remember that when I first met Nicole, she wasn’t sure that Lebanon was her home. She was looking for the perfect place, with just the right aspect, quiet, sun, combination of natural features. The thing was, she found that each potentially perfect place was perfect without her house. After thorough consideration, she would write to me about these places, in hopes that they would be conserved. And she stayed in Lebanon.

Nicole was a champion of her city, its places and its people. She gave many hours indoors, preparing for and attending City Council and Planning Board meetings and doing research, so that Lebanon’s outdoors would be healthy and strong. In the last years of her life, Nicole was the recipient of many accolades and awards. She was named Lebanon’s Citizen of the year. UVLT honored her with the Ashley Advocate Award in 2015 for being a strong ambassador for land conservation and knowing that the quality of life in the region relies on preserving our natural spaces. In the years since her death, we have restarted the Wild About Lebanon program that she led for many years. And we’ve continued to advocate for the conservation and protection of natural areas in and around our region’s central city, so that there is always wildness to be discovered.

Nicole and Rock

Nicole Cormen with the Rix Ledges glacial erratic she knew as O.H.M.G.

Three years ago, I shared these thoughts at a memorial gathering for Nicole:

A microclimate is the climate of a small area that is different from the area around it. It may be warmer or colder, wetter or drier, or more or less prone to frosts. Microclimates may be quite small – a protected courtyard next to a building, for example, that is warmer than an exposed field nearby.

Buildings, trees, rocks can make microclimates. People can too. Nicole’s includes a patch of trillium, a piece of bobcat habitat and the wonder and stewardship she nurtured in all of us.

I thought of this as Jason and Doug attached the plaque to a rock face in the nature preserve that carries Nicole’s name as a place with no trailhead, as Nicole would have wished. A place calling for quiet, humble, careful discovery and delight.

Bobcat at Rix

A bobcat photographed by a game camera at the Nicole S. Cormen Memorial Nature Preserve.