The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department recently closed on a pair of properties that will increase the size of the department’s conserved lands.
The Lewis Creek Streambank property is a 323-acre area of conserved land owned by the Department to protect streamside habitat and provide access along the stream for hunting and fishing. Recently, the Department acquired an additional 65 acres that has been added to this property in the towns of Hinesburg and Monkton. The 65 acres are along Lewis Creek and were sold at a discounted rate by Ray and Pat Mainer of Hinesburg to the department.
“We're pleased to be able to give something to the community and the state, and to know that this sale will add a substantial amount of conserved land available to the public,” said Mainer.
According to Jane Lazorchak, land acquisition coordinator for the Fish & Wildlife Department, the Mainer parcel hosts habitat for a large colony of federally endangered Indiana bats. In 2008, department biologists trapped two Indiana bats on adjacent lands and tracked the animals to a large dead elm tree on Lewis Creek Road near the Mainer property.
“When we revisited this tree at dusk and watched the bats leaving their maternity roost, we counted over 300 Indiana bats,” said Lazorchak. “That makes this tree the largest known Indiana bat maternity colony ever found in Vermont. With the spread of white nose syndrome, it makes it even more important to protect roosting and feeding habitat for these bats. The Department is grateful for their thoughtful and generous donation.”
Calendar Brook Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near the village of Sutton has also added 37 acres, bringing the total size of the WMA to 450 acres. The additional property is entirely composed of mapped deer wintering habitat--a conservation priority for the Fish & Wildlife Department. The property was acquired through a donation from Sarah Scharfenaker and Tom Koehne.
“My family has deep roots in Sutton and this piece of land was our last connection,” said Koehne. “We were happy to donate it to the state so that future generations can enjoy this land as we have."
"Tom [Koehne] and Sarah [Scharfenaker] demonstrate the generosity of Vermonters,” said Lazorchak. “This land can now be managed for wildlife conservation and will remain open for the public to enjoy."
The Fish & Wildlife Department has 89 WMAs, the largest of which encompass tens of thousands of acres. In all, the Department owns more than 133,000 acres of conserved land throughout Vermont. Streambank properties, which are usually smaller than WMAs, are landholdings of the department that protect riparian habitat along streams and rivers and provide access along streams for hunting and fishing. They are distinct from the department’s 170 formal fishing access areas on ponds and rivers throughout Vermont, which typically contain a small parking lot and a boat ramp. More information about Department landholdings is available at www.vtfishandwildlife.com.
Along with the Lewis Creek Streambank, the department manages the Lewis Creek Wildlife Management Area on the same waterway, a few miles upstream.
Media Contacts: Jane Lazorchak 802-598-8012; John Austin 802-746-0197