Wednesday December 26, 2012

CAMBRIDGEPORT -- Malcolm Guild is feeling the holiday spirit.

In fact, he’s been feeling it for about 40 years.

And that spirit of giving has led to the lifelong Vermonter to donate a conservation easement on 113 acres of forested and open land to the Vermont Land Trust on Thursday.

Guild and his late wife, Mary, purchased the house and land in 1965, and he said he has thought about donating the easement for decades. He and Mary bought the property in order to live in a rural area and over the years they raised six children there and acquired two more forested parcels.

"I like the countryside," Guild told the Reformer the day after the paperwork was completed. "I thought it would be nice to keep it that way."

Though Guild -- a Rutland native -- still owns the land and can sell it if he wants to, the donation of the conservation easement means he cannot sell it out in lots. The land can also be used for forestry purposes but houses can no longer be built on it.

Once they donate an easement, landowners continue to own, manage and pay taxes on the land but the conservation easement permanently remains on the property.

Guild said he is glad the deal is done, as it involved two years of hassle. He said the land required extra work with the VLT because it started off as lease land in 1761.

Joan Weir, a regional director at the Vermont Land Trust, said Rockingham and the local the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont had lease holds on the land, which required a little extra work.

She said Guild’s generosity ensures that future generations will be able to enjoy the land.

The property is primarily wooded and the Guild family manages the land for timber. The property also includes about 10 acres of open pasture land and six acres of wetlands. Guild’s son, Thad, raises a small beef herd on the protected property. The Guild land is in close proximity to other forestland on Atcherson Hollow Road that is conserved with the Vermont Land Trust.

Weir said donations of conservation easements come when "landowners generally have an interest and a desire not to see the property get further developed." She said easements help keep land rural.

The Vermont Land Trust is a statewide, member-supported, non-profit land conservation organization that since 1977 has permanently conserved more than 1,750 parcels of land covering 525,000 acres, or about 8 percent of the private, undeveloped land in the state. This conserved land includes more than 765 working farms, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive forestland and numerous parcels of community lands.

Weir, who has been with the organization for nearly 14 years, said Vermont is a leader in land conservation.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.