Expanding a Commitment to Permanence

Nearly 20 years ago, Charlotte Metcalf began conserving farm and forest parcels near the Union Village in Norwich. These parcels consisted of a number of old farms and farmland that she’d been acquiring over time for sustainable forestry and agriculture. She donated a conservation easement to the Upper Valley Land Trust in 2006, and another to the Vermont Land Trust in 2007.  Passionate about local agriculture and resilient food systems, she later donated much of the working farmland to the Vermont Land Trust’s farm access program. Today that land supports Sweetland Farm, a thriving diversified farm and farmstand. In the years after her gift, Charlotte continued her inquiry about the natural systems of her remaining property – the hydrology, geology, and ecology that make her land rare and special.

A meandering perennial stream in Charlotte Metcalf’s forest. The conserved property includes more than a mile of streams.

Charlotte’s land management decisions are informed by all she’s learned. With her forester, she’s focused on reducing invasive plants and restoring biodiversity in her woods and open land, with a goal of improving habitat resiliency. As time went on, she realized that the 2007 conservation easement could be more clear and that specific protections could be spelled out better. She asked the Vermont Land Trust to assign the conservation easement to UVLT and then worked with UVLT to update the deed to add more protective language, add acres that had not been previously included, and remove reserved rights for houses. The restated easement, recorded last month, covers 159 acres.

UVLT’s Peg Merrens explains that although conservation easements are perpetual, amendments are possible when the changes uphold the original terms and purposes and add significant conservation benefit. “In the case of the Metcalf amendment,” she says, “there is no question that the added terms provide enhanced protection of outstanding resources, including two state significant rich fens, and highly scenic fields with long range views enjoyed by the public from Pattrell Road.”

Charlotte’s restated conservation easement carries forward her commitment to permanence and to the resilience of nature. This is a place for plants, birds, mammals, amphibians, pollinators, seeps and springs and streams… forever.

Wetlands surround a rich large fen area visible in the distance in the center of the photo.