Wells River Conservation Area

Wells River Conservation AreaName of Project: Wells River Conservation Area

Location: Wells River/Newbury, VT

River: Wells River

Type of Project: Wetlands, Outdoor Education

Public Access: Yes

Date Completed: 2000

Size: 69 Acres

Water Frontage: 8,000′

Landowner: Town of Newbury; Conservation Easement held by Vermont Housing & Conservation Board

Funding Partners: Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Fields Pond Foundation, Village of Wells River, Town of Newbury, Businesses & Individual Donors

Property Description: With over 8,000 feet along the Wells River, the parcel has diverse, high-quality wetlands, forestlands and prime agricultural soils.

Project Background: In the fall of 1999, dairy farmer Alice Allen, chair of the Newbury Conservation Commission (NCC), noticed that a 69-acre parcel next to Blue Mountain Union School was for sale. She contacted VRC, and its director called the owners of the parcel, Delbert and Shirley Leete. The property was one of the last parcels left of what was once the Leete family diary farm. After several meetings, the Leetes agreed to sell the parcel to VRC at fair market value. VRC and the NCC made a presentation to the Newbury Select Board, suggesting that the town consider ownership of this important community parcel. An extra attraction for the property was that it protected land along the proposed Cross Vermont Trail that runs along the abandoned Wells River-Montpelier railroad bed that adjoins the parcel. Teachers and students at Blue Mountain were excited by the project, and wrote letters of support to the Select Board, identifying the area as a “hands-on, natural science resource, right here in our backyards.” Once the board approved the project, fundraising began in earnest, and donations came from local townspeople as well as from surrounding communities.

Directions: Take Route 302 south to Wells River. Shortly after crossing I-91, the Industrial Park Road and the entrance to Blue Mountain Union School will be on your left. Turn left on Blue Mountain Union School access road. Continue to end of parking lot and park near physical plant. Follow trail down hill and trending in a general easterly direction across railbed. Follow trail up slope with river on right to the protected parcel.

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