View of the Middlebury campus and Green Mountains at sunrise.

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, the human community, and future generations, and we are honored to have the opportunity to teach students about land sustainability 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 + Trail Around Middlebury, GREEN MTN CLUB AND GMNF (BURNT HILL TRAIL), SpIN, VAST, and ACBC. 

The Land Stewardship Initiative

The Lands Advisory Committee was established as part of the Land Stewardship Initiative. This initiative included the following:

  • Adoption of land stewardship guidelines to guide management decisions on Middlebury College lands.
  • Establishment of a closer connection between Middlebury College’s lands and its educational mission by not only providing a research space for faculty and students, but to local K–12 classes. 
  • Establishment of the Land Use Advisory Group 
  • Contribution towards a variety of ecosystem functions—from water quality maintenance and carbon sequestration to biodiversity and wildlife habitat connectivity.
  • Support of the local economy and food and timber production.
  • Documentation of the ecological and agricultural value of its lands, so that we can responsibly assess the impacts to competing values when evaluating prospective land-use decisions.

Download the Land Stewardship Initiative.

Guiding Principles

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, Associate Lab Professor in Environmental Studies  
  • Matt Curran, Director of Business Services 

The Lands Advisory Committee is a group of faculty, staff, and students that is consulted by the Board of Trustees and the College’s administration regarding important land-use decisions on the College’s lands.

For more information, contact lands@middlebury.edu.

Bread Loaf Lands

The Bread Loaf Forest and Campus Zones, encompassing approximately 2,100 acres of woodland and fields is conserved in perpetuity by a conservation easement granted to the Vermont Land Trust by Middlebury College. A conservation easement is a conservation tool that uses the force of law to control how a piece of land is managed. Easements are a powerful conservation tool because they hold the force of law, last forever, and provide a high level of certainty for the future management of land. Learn more about the easement here

The Bread Loaf easement was written to allow for its particular uses as a campus, nordic ski center and educational resource to the college, as well as a biological preserve for the nature that inhabits the Bread Loaf wildlands. Since an easement is effectively permanent, both the Vermont Land Trust and the College had to work together to carefully to craft a special easement that meets present day needs while also being flexible to the potential realities of the future and, of course, fulfilling the primary goal of keeping Bread Loaf ’s natural character preserved forever. Unique to Bread Loaf ’s conservation easement is that it supports public use; most private conservation easements don’t allow for public use. And that is one aspect that makes Middlebury’s conservation of these lands so unprecedented — its deliberate protection of land for both humans and nature. Read more about the history of the Bread Loaf Lands here

The College created the Robert Frost Farm and Cabin Preservation Fund to support the Homer Noble Farm on the Bread Loaf Lands. From 1939 until his death in 1963, Robert Frost spent summers in the cabin on the farmhouse property, now designated a National Historic Landmark. 

We are regional partners with the “Academics for Land Protection In New England” (ALPINE). You can read our brief here

You can read the 2017 Bread Loaf Conservation Report here

Jackson Lands

Another part of the College lands is the 377-acre Jackson Lands in Cornwall just west of campus. Generously gifted to the College in 2012, the woods, fields, and ponds provide a multitude of educational, wildlife conservation, and agricultural uses. A property report can be found here. 

A variety of departments utilize this land including Dance, Biology, and Education Studies. Currently, Professor David Allen conducts research on the site around the ecology of tick borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease. 

An inventory of mammals found on Jackson Lands can be found here. Conservation efforts include: 

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 the lands@middlebury.edu

Battell Research Forest 

Battell Research Forest includes an old-growth northern hardwood-hemlock forest. 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 Research Forest is an important research site for classes, long-term faculty research, and student theses.

Valley Lands 

These include Chipman Hill and Otter Creek Gorge which was included in Joseph Battell’s will as part of his donation towards the college. A map of the area can be found here and the Management Plan can be found here. 100-acres are set aside for delayed mowing as part of our Grasslands Management plan.  

Additionally, the College leases approximately 1,700 acres to local farmers including:  

  • Organic grass-fed dairy 
  • Conventional dairy 
  • No-till dairy

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 lands@middlebury.edu for permission.

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