A lumber company’s property next to Green River Reservoir State Park is one of the latest parcels conserved through the Forest Legacy Program. This means the Lamoille County property will be protected for perpetuity and public access is guaranteed.
Bullard Lumber, in Eden and Hyde Park, has been in Don Bullard’s family for generations.
"My grandfather bought a lot of it up in the 1920s – different farms, back farms," Bullard explains.
The family ran a timber-harvesting operation as well as a mill, and they’ve made a number of wood products over the years.
"My grandfather did a lot of work for the war effort," he says. "Back in World War I and II they did bearings and stuff out of wood, believe it or not. So they made a lot of things for the war effort."
After the war, Bullard Lumber focused on a more leisurely activity.
"We owned and operated a small – well, a fairly good-sized – golf tee mill in North Hyde Park, where we made golf tees," Bullard explains. "And we did that for many years, or my folks did."
He's being modest. According to a town history, the Bullard mill was the world’s largest golf tee manufacturer in the 1950s and '60s.
"After we got out of the golf tee business, for many years – for 20, almost 30 years – we partnered up with the Montgomery Schoolhouse which made really high-end wooden toys," Bullard says. "And so that kept us going for quite a few years. And my wife and I were really involved in that heavily."
The mill is gone now. But the Bullards still work the land.
"We do firewood," Bullard says. "We do logs. We harvest timber on a substantial basis. We’d like to sell some carbon options, but I don’t know. That’s kind of a tricky business."
And the next generation of Bullards have started their own forest enterprise.
"My sons have a fairly substantial sugaring business," Bullard says. "And my wife and I are involved."
The Bullards will be able to keep doing all these things, now that they’ve conserved the lumber company’s 1,400 acres through the federal Forest Legacy Program.
Watch a video below about the federal Forest Legacy Program, produced by the Vermont Department Of Forests, Parks and Recreation:
When Bullard’s father passed away, the company went to him and his siblings. Bullard and his wife Bonnie wanted to hold onto the forestland.
"But," he says, "my siblings weren’t really interested in having – you know, some of them didn’t want land. They wanted, you know, cash, which is understandable. ... In order to generate that cash without cutting every stick of timber we had, we decided – I decided and my father decided – it might be a good course of action to see if we could sell the development rights to it."
So the Bullards got in touch with the Vermont Land Trust. And because the Bullard Lumber property abuts Green River Reservoir State Park to the east and a 48,000-acre Forest Legacy conserved parcel to the west, it was a prime candidate for the program.
Bullard Lumber sold a conservation easement to the state in order to buy out the siblings.
"From a landscape perspective, it’s just a really critical property," says Carl Powden, northeast regional director for the Vermont Land Trust. He adds that this transaction is part of a larger conservation effort in the northern Green Mountains.
"Beyond these immediately adjoining Legacy-funded parcels, there’s very significant amounts of private conserved land, as well as the Long Trail State Forest," says Powden.
Kate Sudhoff coordinates the Forest Legacy Program at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and she says the program is key to keeping forest land open and accessible for people and wildlife.
"The program in Vermont is just a huge success and one of our really great tools that we have to prevent fragmentation and to promote our working forest economy and to conserve wildlife habitat and, you know, all these goals," she says.
Bullard says those goals are important to his family too.
"Our family – we’re hunters and fishermen, too," he notes. "You know, we love the outdoors. My sons trap. We do a lot of that kind of stuff. And so, it’s important to us to have a place, you know, as well as everybody else. And our land has never been posted. We’ve always kept it open for people. And it’s always been important that people have a place to come and wander around."
Now that place is guaranteed to exist for generations to come.
Correction 1/29/18 5:20 p.m. A previous version of this posted stated nearly 62,000 contiguous acres had been conserved through the Forest Legacy Program. In fact, a portion of that land has been conserved through various other means.