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Northeast Wilderness Trust and Ducks Unlimited Protect 184 Acres of Wild Forest and Wetlands

Guildhall, VT – Ducks Unlimited transferred the Duren Mountain property along Route 102 in Guildhall to the Northeast Wilderness Trust. The Wilderness Trust is a Montpelier-based non-profit organization working to protect forever-wild landscapes for nature and people. The 184-acre parcel, which includes extensive wetlands and the summit of Duren Mountain, is now protected by the Wilderness Trust as forever-wild. The forest will be allowed to become old-growth, without any cutting of trees.

Ducks Unlimited (DU) first acquired the property in 2018 in support of the organization’s wetland mitigation work, which aims to offset development of state or federally regulated wetlands.

“Many factors led DU to protect this property, including its beaver ponds that support spring breeding habitat for waterfowl like mallard, wood, and black ducks,” said Patrick Raney, DU’s Manager of Conservation Services. “The land is an intact, forested buffer to the Connecticut River. A high-quality Northern White Cedar Swamp, and the presence of abutting protected lands also made this property a good fit for protection. DU’s partnership with Northeast Wilderness Trust helps us to advance our conservation mission of protecting and restoring more lands, as we know this property is in good hands for the long-haul.”

Duren Mountain is home to an impressive range of wildlife. An active, two-acre beaver pond is home to diverse plants and birds. Since DU placed game cameras on the property in 2019, moose, bear, coyote, and bobcat have all been seen wandering the land. Ruffed grouse and snowshoe hare are also abundant in the dense, young hardwoods that have regrown since the last timber harvest in 2006 on the lower elevations of the property. A Northern White Cedar Swamp, which is a globally uncommon type of wetland, occupies more than 50 acres.

“When Northeast Wilderness Trust creates a new Preserve, we make a commitment that the forest will be allowed to grow wilder each year, benefitting biodiversity and permanent carbon storage,” said Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of the Wilderness Trust. “Setting aside lands to become tomorrow’s old forests is a primary goal of Vermont Conservation Design, which calls for about 9% of Vermont’s forests to grow old. Every acre counts, especially forever-wild acres in priority forest blocks, just like Duren Mountain Wilderness Preserve.”

This new Wilderness Preserve adds to a sizeable protected corridor near the Connecticut River, which is considered a critical wildlife area. It is flanked by properties protected by Vermont Land Trust.

“Forever-wild forests complement surrounding agricultural lands,” says Shelby Perry, Stewardship Director of the Wilderness Trust. “Wildlands serve as living laboratories in the face of climate change. The niche habitats of mature and unmanaged forests help maintain biodiversity in the larger landscape.”

Duren Mountain Wilderness Preserve will be open for quiet, non-motorized (on-foot) recreation like hiking, hunting, nature study, and birdwatching.

About the Northeast Wilderness Trust: Founded in 2002, the Northeast Wilderness Trust conserves forever-wild landscapes for nature and people across New England and the Adirondacks. The Wilderness Trust owns Wilderness Preserves and Sanctuaries, and also protects land through legal means such as conservation easements. The organization currently safeguards more than 35,000 acres of wildlands in six states.