Date of Award
Walter Poleman, Ph.D.
Catherine Paris, Ph.D.
William Keeton, Ph.D.
The acquisition of the Morey Mountain Conservation Area (MMCA) adds another important parcel into the Upper Valley Land Trust’s (UVLT) portfolio of conserved lands; however, the specific conservation values found on the parcel were not known until recently.
In the summer of 2019, I, Max Nash-Howe—as a graduate student at the University of Vermont Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources—spent several weeks surveying the property to inventory forest types, unique natural communities, and other important conservation values. My findings and recommendations for how the UVLT should manage the parcel to ensure the integrity of the conservation values found on Morey Mountain are detailed in this Management Plan.
The MMCA was initially targeted for permanent conservation because of the property’s proximity to Lake Morey. This area has a significant amount of private housing development along the lake shore. The Lake Morey Foundation—a 501(c)(3) organization passionate about protecting the environment around Lake Morey—was concerned about housing development continuing to expand away from the shore into the forests on the western slopes of Lake Morey. Their successful purchase and donation of the MMCA to the UVLT not only secured protection of this parcel from development but also ensured that one of the most biodiverse spots in Orange County, Vermont would be managed to preserve the biodiversity found there.
This Management Plan inventories the conservation values for which the parcel was acquired, identifies the primary objectives for the UVLT in managing this unique parcel, and recommends future efforts to protect its natural integrity. The major finding of a network of hydrologically connected wetlands near the summit basin support the designation of most of the property as a “natural area.” The management activities permitted in this “natural area” are very limited, and certain activities are prohibited outright. This prohibition adds another layer of protection to ensure the integrity of the natural communities and biodiversity found at and around the summit of Morey Mountain.
An important consideration when reading this Management Plan is that the MMCA occupies approximately one-third of what is considered Morey Mountain. While some of the unique wetlands found at the summit occur entirely within the boundaries of the MMCA, other wetlands cross the northern and southern boundaries. Thus, protections put in place through the guidance of the MMCA Management Plan do not restrict abutting landowners from engaging in land management activities on their land in a manner that could damage or alter the integrity of wetlands occurring on both properties.
The hope is that this Management Plan will not only provide the UVLT with the information needed to be an effective steward of this biodiverse and unique parcel but will also prompt further conservation of parcels on Morey Mountain. It is very likely that there are more unique areas on Morey Mountain that are located outside the boundaries of the MMCA. These areas would benefit from the stewardship and management of the UVLT.
Nash-Howe, James M., "Master's Project: Morey Mountain Conservation Area Management Plan" (2019). Rubenstein School Masters Project Publications. 22.