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Vermont Community Foundation Fundholders Commit $120,000 to Protect Okemo Wildlife Corridor in Mount Holly

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The Mount Holly Conservation Trust has received a total of $120,000 from two Vermont Community Foundation fundholders to permanently protect 346 acres in Mount Holly that connect the southern part of the Green Mountain National Forest with the Okemo State Forest and Coolidge State Forest. An anonymous Vermont Community Foundation fundholder awarded a generous $100,000 challenge grant that—combined with a $20,000 gift from the Lyman Orton Fund—brings the Mount Holly Conservation Trust closer to its overall fundraising goal of $400,000.

To finalize the purchase of the property located off Vermont Route 155 in Mount Holly between Weston and Wallingford, the Okemo Wildlife Corridor Conservation Project needs to raise approximately $70,000 more in donations to meet the challenge.

For the past 10 years, the Mount Holly Conservation Trust has worked closely with the Vermont Land Trust, The Conservation Fund, and the Ninevah Foundation to create this protected corridor to ensure that bear, moose, and other wildlife are able to travel freely to find food, mates, and new territory. The Mount Holly section is a critical link in a 100-mile swath that preserves the sources of the West and Mill rivers and Branch Brook; healthy high-elevation forest, streams, and wetlands that support an abundance of wildlife; and public lands for recreation including existing VAST snowmobile and Catamount ski trails. Working in cooperation with the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, the land will be added to the Okemo State Forest.

“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create uninterrupted habitat preserving wild places that make Vermont so special, and we’re grateful to our fundholders for investing in our shared future,” said Dan Smith, president and CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation.

“My parents live in Mount Holly, so these wetlands, watersheds, and wild places are home to me as much as they are to the bear, moose, trout, and other creatures that live here,” added Elisabeth Marx, a senior philanthropic advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation. “We are eager to see additional community donors meet this challenge to help the Mount Holly Conservation Trust complete the purchase and guarantee that the land remains a wildlife corridor forever.”

The Mount Holly Conservation Trust is a nonprofit, volunteer organization focused on preserving the beauty and character of Mount Holly.

“We’re inspired by the opportunity to protect the wild places of Mount Holly, and secure a small local effort to reduce climate change,” noted Brigid Sullivan, a member of the Mount Holly Conservation Trust’s board of directors. “At the same time, we’re also inspired by the fundholders and donors who choose to support our work, and now we need just $70,000 more to preserve the Okemo Wildlife Corridor forever.”