The Bear Pond area is one of UVLT’s largest projects by acreage, with over 900 acres including 95 acres of peat bog and 65 acres of wetlands at the headwaters of the Mascoma River. The Bear Pond Natural Area has tremendous biological diversity, hosting a number of rare plant species and it has been described as some of the best bogs in the state. The property also features a variety of other terrain, including 60-foot-tall rock outcrops, an alluvial meadow, and is primarily covered in woodlands. The property is frequented by bear, moose, deer, bobcat, fisher, and wild turkey. Bear Pond Natural Area has “forever wild” restrictions where wildlife, natural processes, and habitat succession are prioritized for management with relatively little human disturbance to the property.
Bear Pond Natural Area has four trails: The Sweet Water Trail, Leo’s Loop, the Horseshoe Pond Trail, and the Audubon Trail. These trails are marked with trail blazes and open to the public for light recreation.
There are two access points for the Bear Pond Property. The first is a pull off on Goose Pond Road with parking for several cars. This parking area is the access point for the Audubon Trail. The second parking area is off of Switch Road. This is a small parking area for 1-2 cars. This parking area is the access point for the Sweetwater Trail.
The Story of Bear Pond Natural Area
The protection of the Bear Pond Natural Area is a testament to what a dedicated group of volunteers can accomplish. Successfully ending a 14-year quest, the Mascoma Watershed Conservation Council, assisted by UVLT, raised $350,000 to purchase this tract at the headwaters of the Mascoma River and establish a stewardship endowment for the property. They conveyed a conservation easement on the property to UVLT. In 2019 the property was given to UVLT to own and steward permanently.
Avian ecologist Len Reitsma started a continuous population study of Canada Warblers at Bear Pond in 2003. Canada Warblers have been designated a “species at risk” in Canada. Len’s research has contributed to a better understanding of migration, nesting and habitat. His research demonstrates the importance of conserving places like Bear Pond where scientists can conduct long running investigations.