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500 Acres Added to Woodbury Mountain

In early December Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased 5,400 acres as a first step in establishing the Woodbury Mountain Wilderness Preserve. Later that month, the Wilderness Trust secured the Eagle Ledge Addition, a strategic parcel integral to knitting together one unified wild landscape. We are still fundraising to cover the costs of buying and protecting this land; you can make a difference for wildlife and their homes with a gift to the Preserve today.

The Eagle Ledge Addition not only expands Woodbury Mountain Wilderness Preserve by another 500 acres—it is a cornerstone that connects three previously disparate parcels of the Preserve to one another. Much like a puzzle piece filling an empty hole, the Eagle Ledge Addition is a critical link that ensures a comprehensive picture—one where forest blocks will stay connected and intact for generations to come, animals can travel without hindrance, and core interior habitat is further buffered from the effects of development on abutting private lands.

Approximately one-third of this land was logged in 2017, and while more than half of the forest is relatively young, 180 acres in the uncut western section is roughly middle-aged. Much of this area is made up of wetlands, including expansive active beaver wetlands with several small ponds, all of which are home to diverse reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and birds. The topography of the unharvested area is shaped like a bowl. This shape causes rich, fertile soils that build up when streams and groundwater deposit nutrients at the bottom of the slope. The rich, compost-like soil results in unique assemblages of species, including beautiful springtime wildflowers.

Northern Hardwood Forest unfurls across the ridgetops and broad valleys of the Eagle Ledge Addition, with stands of hemlock shading the steep valley slopes. The land includes five miles of headwater streams of the Elmore Branch of the Lamoille River. Wilderness-level protections will safeguard their water quality to the highest degree. The streams on this land are likely to support native wild brook trout due to the rocky slopes and shady hemlock ravines, which result in clear, cold, well-oxygenated waters that are essential to many native fish species.

Like the rest of Woodbury Mountain Wilderness Preserve, the Eagle Ledge Addition lies on an important wildlife movement corridor linking the Worcester Mountains to the Northeast Kingdom, both of which have large protected forests. Sign of moose, beaver, white-tailed deer, coyote, porcupine, grouse, and bear dot the landscape. Recent harvests on the property created many small and medium-sized openings that will quickly fill in with shrubs and small trees, providing ample forage for early successional species such as ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, and insectivorous song birds. Dramatic ledges of exposed bedrock may be used as dens by bobcats or as winter refuge by porcupines.

The Eagle Ledge property is highly ranked by the Vermont Conservation Design as forestland that is a priority for protection due to its connection to other large forest blocks and its extensive water features. It also has a high diversity of natural features and species, lending to its resilience in the face of climate change.

Experience this wild place through video, story, and photography here.

Photography: Eagle Ledge Addition in November | Shelby Perry