As owner of several thousand acres of land in the Champlain Valley and Green Mountains, Middlebury College is committed to exemplary land stewardship.
Middlebury College’s land stewardship and conservation program is one of the hallmarks of our commitment to sustainability. We take seriously our responsibility to the land and waters, the human and more-than-human communities, and future generations. We are honored to have the opportunity to teach students about land conservation, management, and justice through classes, research projects, and our land stewardship interns program.
The conservation activities taking place on the College’s land work alongside Vermont Conservation Design, Addison County Riverwatch Collaborative, and more while supporting wildlands, woodlands, farmlands, and communities, both human and nonhuman. The College Lands Program supports and mentors WildMidd as well as the Hannaford Career Center Natural Resource Management program.
Recreation partners include the Middlebury Area Land Trust (TAM), Green Mountain Club and Green Mountain National Forest, Spirit in Nature (SpIN), Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), and Addison County Bike Club (ACBC).
The Land Stewardship Initiative
The Land Stewardship Initiative was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2008. The Initiative recognizes the variety of goals, objectives, and values that shape the College’s decisions regarding land. The Initiative ensures that land stewardship guidelines are carefully reviewed and taken into account so that the College can make informed and environmentally responsible decisions. It includes the following:
- Land stewardship guidelines to guide the College’s land use decisions.
- Establishing a Lands Advisory Group to assist the College in making land use decisions for all College lands.
- Nurturing closer connections between College lands and our educational mission which includes student and faculty research and class use.
Download the Land Stewardship Initiative.
Middlebury’s Land Stewardship Initiative established seven guiding principles that inform our use of land:
- The College recognizes the importance of applying principles of environmental sustainability to the stewardship of its lands.
- Land stewardship involves fiscally responsible decision making.
- The College recognizes that College lands are parts of broader ecosystems and promotes practices that improve the biological integrity of those ecosystems.
- The College recognizes the value of the traditional Vermont landscape and historically important land uses to Middlebury College and to the larger Vermont community.
- The College recognizes that appropriate use of lands can help achieve broader sustainability goals, such as reduction of transportation impacts through development of land close to town centers, or reduction of carbon emissions through development of land for alternative energy sources.
- The College recognizes the value of existing teaching and research sites and acknowledges the tremendous opportunities for experiential education across disciplines that exist in its network of landholdings.
- The College embraces the ideal of compatible uses, recognizing that conservation and fiscal prudence are not mutually exclusive objectives, and resolves that responsible stewardship will carefully consider all of these guiding principles.
Who We Are
- Marc Lapin, College Lands Conservationist; Associate Lab Professor in Environmental Studies
- Matt Curran, Director of Business Services
The Lands Advisory Group is a collection of faculty and staff who advise the College administration and Board of Trustees on lands-related decisions.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bread Loaf Lands
The Bread Loaf lands, encompassing approximately 2,100 acres of forest and field, is conserved in perpetuity by a conservation easement donated to the Vermont Land Trust (VLT). A conservation easement is a primary tool of private lands conservation in the United States. VLT holds the development and certain management rights, while the College is bound to use the lands only for purposes of natural ecological values, education, and outdoor recreation. Easements are a powerful conservation tool because they are upheld by law, last forever, and provide a high level of certainty for the future management of land. The easement is a legally-binding agreement filed with the Ripton Town Clerk. Learn more about the easement here.
The Bread Loaf easement allows for the lands to be utilized as an educational resource and campus and as Rikert Outdoor Center, while also serving as an ecological preserve. Since an easement is effectively permanent, the VLT, the College, and the Nature Conservancy collaboratively crafted a complex easement that meets the present day uses and values and is a flexible instrument in perpetuity.
The easement contains four primary goals:
- Maintaining ecological integrity and ecosystem functions
- Conserving and protecting outdoor recreational resources
- Conserving and protecting the educational mission of the property
- Prevent use or development that would adversely affect the above three goals
To support these goals, the College established the Bread Loaf Preservation Fund. Read more about the history of the Bread Loaf Lands here.
Academics for Land Protection In New England (ALPINE), of which Middlebury is a member, prepared a brief describing the conservation project and its uniqueness. The Office of Sustainability produced a more detailed description of the project.
Champlain Valley Lands
The College has approximately 3,000 acres of farmland, forest, and wetland abutting and near the main campus. Included within the valley lands are the Jackson Lands and the Stephen C. Trombulak Nature Sanctuary, along with state-significant natural communities, rare and uncommon plant and animal species, miles of recreational trails, and productive agricultural fields leased to local farmers.
The agricultural lands are used for organic grass-fed dairy, conventional dairy, no-till dairy, and sheep grazing. The valley forests, along with Bread Loaf forests, are part of the carbon credit project.
Although this is a private residence, the 377-acre Jackson Lands in Cornwall serves as a research and educational resource. Generously gifted to the College in 2012, the woods, fields, and ponds provide a multitude of educational, wildlife conservation, and agricultural uses.
Along with Environmental Studies, the land is utilized by Dance, Biology, and other departments. Currently, Professor David Allen conducts research on the ecology of tick borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease at this and other sites.
Conservation management on the Jackson Lands includes:
- Shrubland Bird Management
- Grassland Bird Management
- No Tree Harvesting
- Flying Squirrel Nesting Boxes
An inventory of mammals compiled from class work between 2012 and 2018 can be found here.
Please note that this property is not open to the public, which includes Middlebury College staff, students, and faculty. Absolutely no visitation without permission. No hunting or horses allowed on the premises. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Stephen C. Trombulak Nature Sanctuary
The Trombulak Nature Sanctuary is located less than a mile south of the center of Middlebury on the west side of the Otter Creek. The Sanctuary, dedicated in honor of Stephen Trombulak, is an approximately 24-hectare (60-acre) area between Otter Creek on the east and railroad tracks on the west; the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM) divides the sanctuary into northern and southern portions. The TAM is a public-access recreational path maintained by the Middlebury Area Land Trust, but the road is owned by Middlebury College and pre-dates the TAM.
The nature sanctuary is managed to conserve wildlife habitat, natural communities, wetlands functions and other ecosystem services. The area is primarily a place for nature, yet important human uses include teaching, research, nature connection and wildlife viewing.
Battell Biological Preserve
Battell Biological Preserve, also known as Battell Research Forest, is an old-growth northern hardwood-hemlock forest and a designated natural national landmark. Research at the forest expands our knowledge of intact forest systems in northeastern North America, where few examples of forest that has never been logged exist. Battell Biological Preserve is important for long-term research, class investigations and student theses.
Hunting on Middlebury College Lands
With the exception of the Jackson Lands, Rikert Nordic Center, and Snow Bowl, Middlebury Colleges Lands that are not used for agricultural purposes are open for hunting. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission.