How a new nature reserve in Cambridge will conserve wildlife and provide recreational opportunities | New


CAMBRIDGE – Just above the ridge of Mount Mansfield and north of the Lamoille River, a new 51-acre reserve will soon offer another nearby place to explore nature.

The Peter A. Krusch Nature Reserve will be established by the City of Cambridge in 2021. Last week, the city acquired former farmland from Sally Laughlin, who worked with the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) and the Cambridge Conservation Commission to create the new community resource.

Named after Laughlin’s late husband, Krusch Nature Reserve includes forests, meadows, streams and ravines. Its conservation easement, or legal protection, is held by the VLT and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

Bob Heiser, VLT’s regional director for the Champlain Valley, said after some renovations the reserve will be open to the public for a number of recreational activities.

The site is approximately 15 minutes drive from Fairfax and 30 minutes from St. Albans.

The continuation of a legacy

Krusch bought the farm and the forest in the 1950s and tended the land for 60 years, according to the VLT. He has regenerated overexploited forests, practiced sustainable logging and cultivated his own food.

In a press release, Laughlin said her husband’s dream is to keep the land and open it to the public.

A conservationist herself, Laughlin co-founded the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and served as its executive director for 18 years. She was also a member of the Vermont Endangered Species Committee for over 30 years.

Peter Krusch walks in the nature reserve. The grounds will be maintained by the city and a group of dedicated volunteers.

Community effort seals the agreement

While Laughlin donated the majority of the land value, a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and donations from more than 130 community members made the acquisition possible.

“There was a very dedicated group of local community members who helped raise around $ 80,000,” Heiser said.

This money will be used to create a management fund that will cover the city’s initial management costs.

Work to be undertaken in 2021

The City of Cambridge is currently developing a management plan for the site. In the future, it will be maintained by the city and a group of dedicated volunteers.

Next year, a car park should be built next to North Cambridge Road. The land will allow hikers and other users to access both the nature reserve and the adjacent Cambridge Pines State Forest.

A trail will meander from the parking lot through a meadow and hemlock forest, cross various streams, and end at a waterfall.

Peter A. Krusch Nature Reserve - community walk

Community members on a public walk in 2019 on what is now the new Peter A. Krusch Nature Reserve.

A home for important wildlife

Heiser said the site is valuable not only because of its variety of landscapes and wildlife, but also because of its proximity to the state forest.

“It’s a diverse property which is really impressive in itself, but also in the improved access it adds to the Cambridge Pines,” said Heiser.

Cambridge Pines is one of the few examples of old growth forest in Vermont, or forest that has reached great age without significant disturbance.

The largest hemlock in the forest is over 300 years old and no significant logging has taken place there since 1860, according to the Guide to Ancient Forests.

Today, less than 1% of New England’s old growth forest remains.

Additionally, the vast connected wooded areas of the Krusch Nature Reserve provide animals that need room to roam, such as bears, bobcats and moose, the space they need to roam. flourish. The country’s interior forest also provides shelter for nesting birds, according to the VLT.

The types of recreational uses permitted have yet to be determined by the City of Cambridge, but Heiser expects walking, hiking and birding to be popular.

Where is the Peter A. Krusch nature reserve located?

Located off North Cambridge Road, Cambridge, VT 05464

Peter A. Krusch Reserve - map


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