The Nature Conservancy is aiming to raise an additional $170,000 to successfully close on the purchase of a 48-acre parcel of land near Shelburne Pond that spans the City of South Burlington and the Town of Shelburne. The land belonged to the family of the late John Ewing, former chairman of Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, whose intention was always to conserve it for future generations.
“We’ve reached out to a number of people who have been supportive of our work at Shelburne Pond and we’re hoping that people are willing either make a contribution to the project or make a pledge,” said Jon Binhammer, the Director of Conservation at The Nature Conservancy in Vermont. “They can pledge over a period of a few years if they don’t want to make a contribution all in one year. We will put that money to work right there at this property. All gifts that are designated for Shelburne Pond will go toward this project, and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to close the gap.”
The Ewing parcel has significant ecological values that if conserved would protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity. It also has historical significance with records of native people living on the land as far back as 11,000 years ago.
“It makes sense that the areas the Conservancy works to protect overlap with places of historic significance to native people,” Binhammer said. “The most biodiverse places are equally rich in botanical and biological resources that were utilized by native people.”
Two canoes, carbon dated at 400 years old, have been discovered in Shelburne Pond, and numerous archaeological sites have been identified at various locations around the pond. Coyotes hunt in cattail marshes during winter, over 100 species of birds thrive in the adjacent forests and fields, and the pond is a haven for beavers, otters, and muskrats.
Binhammer said the Nature Conservancy is hoping to close on the purchase of the property by the end of March or early April.
Once acquired, the University of Vermont will be responsible for the stewardship of the land through a conservation easement held by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and The Nature Conservancy. With a $106,600 grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, an $80,000 grant from the Town of Shelburne, and a very generous bargain sale by the Ewing family, an additional $170,000 needs to be raised to cover the total project cost of $356,600.
In addition to fundraising, Binhammer said the Conservancy has funds available from a donor who “fell in love with this pond a long time ago,”
“We’ve utilized those resources over the years to help to acquire a lot of the lands around the pond,” he said. “We have some of that money left over and earmark some of that toward this project and we’d also like to save some of those funds for even more conservation work at Shelburne Pond.”
The non-profit has also asked the City of South Burlington for a $20,000 grant but has not yet heard if the grant was approved.
Since 1973, The Nature Conservancy has been involved in 22 transactions to conserve the shoreline and wetlands associated with Shelburne Pond, assembling the 1,046-acre natural area like a puzzle. The 48-acre Ewing parcel will be the 23rd transaction and will preclude development at an important archaeological site in Vermont.
To donate to the project, contact Catherine Newman, Director of Philanthropy, at 802-229-4425, x120.