That first large easement, completed in 1980, set many precedents for the land trust, said Darby Bradley, past VLT president and this year's recipient of the Hildene Award for local conservation.
"I'm getting the award, but I'm standing on the shoulders of many, many, many people who helped make this a success," said Bradley, shortly before receiving the recognition. Feted by a half-dozen peers from state and national conservation groups, Bradley continued contributing to the conservation of Vermont forest land by announcing the Tinmouth Land Trust as his chosen beneficiary for the award's accompanying $10,000 cash prize.
"He calls it a payback, but it's more of a thanks," to the Lloyds and other early supporters of the land trust movement, said Paula Maynard, Hildene press director.
To date since 1977, the VLT has worked with more than 1,700 landowners, including 700 working farms, to conserve some 525,000 acres across the state. Bradley's involvement through the trust's formative years merited the award at Hildene Sunday.
Tallying the amount of conserved land, "it says a great deal about the success of the Vermont Land Trust," said Vermont Natural Resources Council Director
After more than three decades of involvement, and 17 years as VLT president, Bradley said he couldn't have predicted the outcome, but, "if you wanted to be in the land trust movement ... Vermont is the best place to be because it has support from all levels," he said, including governors and legislators, foundations, and, most importantly, landowners.
"It was a new idea for landowners, it was a new idea for state legislators, and it took a few adventurous people to say, 'I'm going to put a conservation easement on my land, and I'm going to trust the land trust is going to be around longer than I am,'" said Bradley.
"It's not just a statement of faith -- those conservation easements and development rights had real financial value that they were giving up."
The director of the Vermont Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Bob Klein, called the VLT a "world-class land trust organization," while Paul Lowerre, Hildene board vice-chairman, dubbed Bradley "a giant of Vermont lore and legend -- like Paul Bunyan without the blue ox."
Inaugurated in 2004 and first bestowed on former Sen. James Jeffords for his work helping to preserve Civil War battlefields, the Hildene Award will now become an annual recognition, Executive Director Seth Bongartz said, for contributions in the areas of land conservation and historic preservation.
"Done correctly, land conservation and preservation is about the future," said Bongartz, who also described the award in part as a tribute to predecessors at Hildene who kept the historic estate intact.
Sunday's ceremony concluded with the unveiling of "trail cairns" honoring the first two award recipients, Jeffords and Bradley, beginning a Hildene Award Trail into the woods a short walk across the front lawn of Robert Todd Lincoln's ancestral home.
Print Email Font ResizeReturn to Top