NRLT Easements – Paul Cillo

Bridgman Hill Road, Hardwick

Andrew Meyer. 
In January 2008, the Greensboro Land Trust transferred to the NRLT a conservation easement on Andrew Meyer’s 21.5-acre hayfield on Bridgman Hill Road that it had held since 1997. At that time Andrew wished to conserve his land, but Hardwick had no land trust and the parcel’s size fell below the Vermont Land Trust’s minimum. Accordingly the GLT agreed to hold the easement until a body was established to serve Hardwick. This happened with the advent of the NRLT.

Paul Cillo. 
In 2005, Paul Cillo of Hardwick bought an 18-acre former carrot field at the corner of Bridgman Hill and Renaud Roads from Robert Houriet. Wishing to conserve this beautiful piece of land, with a striking view of Stannard Mountain over Center Road, Cillo, former majority leader in the Vermont House of Representatives and director of the nonprofit Public Assets Institute, looked for an organization that could accept a conservation easement, protecting the land in perpetuity.

At the time the Greensboro Land Trust was the only such body active locally, so Cillo contacted it. Preferring not to take easements outside its territory, the GLT proposed formation of a regional body serving Hardwick and neighboring towns. Cillo responded and worked with a Craftsbury land discussion group and counterparts from other towns to establish the Northern Rivers Land Trust (NRLT).

Once the NRLT acquired its tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service in August 2007, preparations began for the new land trust to accept an easement on Cillo’s land. The easement will keep the land open, allowing only agricultural structures to be built. In the foreseeable future the land is likely to provide pasturage for livestock from the neighboring Meyer farm.

Complementing Cillo’s donation, the Stony Point Foundation generously contributed the monitoring fee on his easement. Land trusts raise this fee, from landowners or other sources, and invest it in a stewardship endowment that ensures permanent supervision of their easements.

Meyer and Jordan families.
The NRLT’s Cillo easement is part of a 364-acre project protecting more than a mile along scenic Bridgman Hill Road. In March 2008 the Vermont Land Trust sealed a conservation easement with the Meyer family, operators of the North Hardwick Dairy Farmstead abutting Cillo’s land to the north.

The easement, obtained through a bargain-sale financed largely by a Freeman Foundation grant, protects 218 acres of farmland and forest, including the 107-acre property formerly owned by Penelope Lewis and purchased by the Meyers in 2007. As part of local contributions to the project, the NRLT raised $10,000 in memory of Ms. Lewis to help defray VLT costs.

In May 2008 Henry and Barrie Jordan donated an easement to the VLT on 128 acres across Bridgman Hill Road from the Meyers and Cillo. This gives the overall project its total of 364 acres (= 18 + 218 + 128). The new easements add to 430 acres previously protected by the Vermont Land Trust in four separate holdings along southern stretches of the road.