Burleigh Farm and Forest, East Charlotte - 2010

Al Karnatz, Regional Director of the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) toasts the Burleighs
Representatives of the team that made this project possible: Front Row: Al Karnatz - VLT, Karen Freeman - Vermont Housing Conservation Board, Art and Sheila Burleigh, Joan Allen - The Nature Conservancy (TNC); Back row: Emily Boedecker - TNC, Marty Illick - Lewis Creek Association, Gary Burleigh, Frances Foster - Charlotte Land Trust.
Art Burleigh at the party
Group photo of many of the celebration attendees
Assembling for the hike
Hike to the newly conserved Burleigh Forest led by Joan Allen, TNC

Burleigh Project Celebration Slideshow

A celebration of the culmination of this project was  held on Saturday, June 20, on the Burleigh Farm.  The Burleigh family: Art, Sheila and Gary, celebrated along with a number of townspeople and representatives of the partner organizations which helped make the project possible by toasting with champagne and sharing cake and fresh strawberries.  Joan Allen of the Nature Conservancy led a nature walk on the forest portion of the property.

 The Nature Conservancy has placed a sign on Spear Street, just south of the property directing hikers to the trail.

Photos by Edd Merritt, Charlotte Land Trust

Protecting Charlotte's Rural Heritage

Haying Season at the Burleigh Farm

Charlotte Dairy Farm and Forestland Protected From Development

The Charlotte Land Trust, the Lewis Creek Association, The Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Land Trust are pleased to announce the conservation of 201 acres of farmland and forestland in the southern reaches of the Town of Charlotte.  The conservation of this land occurred in February, 2009.

 A few years ago Marty Illick, CLT Board Member and director of the Lewis Creek Association, heard of the pending subdivision of the Burleigh Farm, which is located on Spear Street just south of Prindle Road. “I noticed the surveyor flags and saw the line stretching up through an area of mature woodland,” said Illick. “At the very next opportunity I spoke with the Burleigh family, and impressed on them my belief that there were other options that could not only improve farm viability, but also protect the forestland for future generations.”

Sheila Burleigh, who works on the farm with her brother Gary and father Arthur, joked that just a couple of years ago Art Burleigh, then in his mid-eighties, began thinking of retirement. Subdivision of the forestland into high-end home sites seemed to be the only option available to recapitalize the farm. Assembling an array of partners that also included the Town of Charlotte and the Charlotte Land Trust, Illick presented the family with a creative alternative — conserving the farm with the Vermont Land Trust and selling the forestland to The Nature Conservancy.

Protecting our Rural Heritage

Burleigh Forest

By selling a conservation easement on 73 acres, the Burleighs were able to keep the farm portion of their land in the family and secure its future as a local farm resource. The Burleighs have been connected to the land since the 1920s, when Art moved there as a child. Today his son Gary farms an 80-head dairy operation. It was the family’s love of their land that inspired them to sell the development rights for far less than their market value.  High land values in Charlotte make it difficult to protect good farmland but fortunately the combination of State and local funding as well as local donors and the generosity of the Burleigh family combined to ensure that this farmland will remain protected forever.

Haven for Wildlife and Agriculture

“Fifteen years ago ecologists identified the Burleigh’s forestland as ‘a resource of statewide significance’,” noted Joan Allen, Associate Director of Land Protection with The Nature Conservancy. “The woods are exceptional. With an abundance of nut producing trees, rich limey soils, rock outcrops, and vernal pools, they provide habitat for so many species including bobcat, mink, bats, deer, migratory songbirds, salamanders, wildflowers and herbs.” Known by ecologists as a Mesic Maple-Ash-Hickory-Oak Forest, this site is one of only three of this size and quality in Vermont. 


The Burleigh land and easement purchase cost a little over $950,000 although the appraised value of the property was $1.6 million. (The price difference is due to the Burleighs’ generosity in making a bargain sale of the property).  Funding for this project came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Town of Charlotte, the Agency of Natural Resources Clean and Clear Program, the Charlotte Land Trust, Lewis Creek Association, the Vermont Land Trust and local donors.

Art Burleigh on Four Wheeler

The Charlotte Land Trust, an all volunteer land trust established in 1986 to help protect and preserve the rural and agricultural landscape of Charlotte.

Lewis Creek Association, since 1990 working to protect, maintain and restore ecological health in the Lewis Creek Watershed while promoting social values that support sustainable community development. www.lewiscreek.org.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Vermont Chapter, chartered in 1960, has helped conserve over 198,000 acres of significant natural areas throughout the state, and maintains 44 nature preserves. www.nature.org/vermont.

Vermont Land Trust works with individuals, organizations, and communities to conserve land for the future of Vermont. Since 1977, VLT has permanently conserved more than 480,000 acres. This land includes more than 660 working farms, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive forestland, and numerous parcels of community lands. www.vlt.org

Vermont Public Radio Interview with Art Burleigh