Mount Equinox Highlands Expands

Mount Equinox Highlands Expands

Mount Equinox Highlands Expands

The Nature Conservancy’s Mount Equinox Highlands Natural Area – one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse mountain ecosystems in Vermont – now encompasses 2,568 acres. Photo by Bob Klein

The Nature Conservancy’s Mount Equinox Highlands Natural Area – one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse mountain ecosystems in Vermont – now encompasses 2,568 acres. Photo by Bob Klein

The Nature Conservancy announces that the Mount Equinox Highlands Natural Area has been expanded by 118 acres, bringing the total of conserved land there to 2,568 acres. Located in Manchester and Dorset, it is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse mountain ecosystems in Vermont. “We have been working on stitching together this spectacular Taconic landscape, parcel by parcel, year after year, with multiple partners, for over 30 years,” said Jon Binhammer, director of protection for The Nature Conservancy. “A connected and climate-resilient landscape teeming with natural treasures is our reward and our gift to the Vermont community.”

The preserve boasts the largest contiguous rich northern hardwood forest in New England, 20 rare plants, two species of globally rare bats, critical wildlife habitat linkage areas, and over 11 miles of hiking trails. Visitors in April and May can experience ephemeral spring wildflowers, and scenic views can be reached year-round by trails managed both by The Nature Conservancy and the Equinox Preservation Trust.

“The recent expansion is a win for both nature and people,” said Heather Furman, Vermont state director for The Nature Conservancy. “Although the Equinox Natural Area is a biodiversity success story, it also benefits water quality. This project underscores the many important reasons we should invest in protecting nature.”

The recent addition protects mountain springs that feed into the aquifer that provides the Town of Manchester with its water supply. The 118-acre tract alone produces thousands of gallons of water per day. The springs also funnel cold water into the Batten Kill River, creating superior temperature conditions for trout.  The project was made possible by loyal supporters and a $49,000 contribution by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

Mount Equinox Highlands Natural Area and other Nature Conservancy natural areas are nature’s strongholds, which are predicted to help plants, wildlife and people withstand the growing impacts of climate change. They represent resilient landscapes that allow species to move as they adapt to changing temperatures.

The Nature Conservancy in Vermont is a leader in safeguarding the natural heritage of the Green Mountain State, and has helped conserve over 300,000 acres of land and 1,500 miles of shoreline; they manage and maintain 55 natural areas open for hiking, fishing, skiing and hunting. The Vermont chapter has been connecting land, water and wildlife for nearly 60 years. To learn more and support their important work, visit nature.org/vermont.

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