Mark and Mary McGrath

    This holding, farmed already before 1850 and owned and occupied by only four families before the McGraths (Aiken, Willey, Wilson & Massey), consists of four parcels totaling 318.6 acres on both sides of Town Highway #8, including active hayfields of 68 acres and 240 acres of managed woodland. In December 2004 the McGraths donated an easement on the four parcels to the GLT.

    The property fronts on both TH#8 and Hill Road for a total of 5,736 feet. The portion on the western side of TH#8 adjoins, and extends beyond in both directions, the entire eastern boundary of the Barr Hill Nature Preserve. Together with easements on the two Hill properties, the McGraths’ easement creates a protected corridor connecting the Long Pond Natural Area with Barr Hill. With only two gaps, the corridor stretches from Baker Hill, overlooking Caspian Lake, all the way to the Glover town line.

    Also on the western parcel, the McGraths have built a pond that attracts a variety of wildlife, including moose, beaver and otters.

    On the eastern side of TH#8, the protected land includes a significant portion of Taylor Swamp, a large open bog which has been found to include an intermediate fen of both statewide and global significance. Vermont naturalist Brett Engstrom reports that the fen contains two rare/uncommon natural communities and four rare/uncommon vascular plant species.

    The easement allows a maximum of two residences in addition to the existing homestead complex, which is defined as five acres straddling TH#8. The new residences will be restricted to the western side of the road, which accounts for the bulk of the acreage.

In December 2011 the McGraths conserved a further 127 acres of their land, stretching nearly 4,000 feet along Baker Hill Road and Town Highway 8. An additional five acres constitutes a reserved homestead. Like the McGraths’ 2004 easement, the new parcel, which it abuts to the east, comprises over 80% high-quality forest. It significantly widens a band of conserved land stretching partway across the middle of Greensboro township. It also contains 22 acres of fields, the largest of which features prime agricultural soils. With the grant of this easement, the McGraths have donated over 40% of the 1,100 acres of Greensboro land conserved with the GLT.

     The McGraths have reserved the right for themselves or future landowners to install a one-acre solar power array on the protected area as a permitted rural enterprise. The McGraths believe that future generations will prize solar power as a substitute for current sources, and that conservation easements should make allowance for this.