The 123-acre Green Mountain College campus on the Poultney River provides a rich environment for academic programs, student life, and ecosystem services. It is divided into three distinct regions: 39 acres of natural areas including the Poultney River buffer zone, 40 acres on Cerridwen Farm, and 44 acres of designed buildings, landscapes, and athletic fields.
In addition to the natural areas on campus, St. Catherine Mountain is home to the College’s Deane Nature Preserve, which is 85 acres of land open to students and the public for education, research, recreation, and leisure, located 5 miles southeast of campus.
Green space on the Green Mountain College campus provides ecosystem services, and is vital to education, research, and recreation. Campus lands are outdoor classrooms and field sites for projects by both students and faculty. They are used in practical application of skills learned in courses, provide a healthy living area for GMC and Poultney community members, and contribute to our dedication to sustainability on campus.
Our campus lands provide habitat for over 300 native vascular plant species in more than 15 plant communities, ranging from riverine floodplain forests on the Poultney River to dry oak forest at the Deane Nature Preserve.
In addition, the Poultney River, which runs near the western boundary of campus, lies within the Poultney-Mettowee watershed and the Lake Champlain Basin. This watershed is 309,000-acres, and provides water for 17 towns in Vermont and New York. The Poultney River is one of the cleanest rivers in the state, and supports diverse fish and freshwater mussel communities including eight threatened or endangered species such as the eastern sand darter and the pink heel-splitter.
Floodplain wetlands and forests associated with the Poultney River form one of the least-developed riparian corridors on a warm-water river in Vermont. The College maintains a 35-meter wide buffer zone along the river to decrease erosion, maintain high water quality, and moderate water temperature. The buffer zone plays a vital role by providing habitat for native plants and animals, biomass production, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and waste processing, among others. Check out a map of our riparian buffer zone.
To ensure that these ecosystem services continue, vegetation in natural areas is allowed to develop primarily through natural processes. Invasive species are managed, native flora is planted to restore some areas, and studies of restoration are conducted.
Faculty and students are engaged in research projects in a variety of disciplines on campus lands and in the region. Some field labs are designed to give students the opportunity to contribute to long-term studies while they learn field and lab skills. For example, students have collected most of the plant specimens in the College’s herbarium and made it possible to compile a flora list for campus and Deane Nature Preserve.
Beginning in 2001, Ecology students have monitored old fields on campus to compare the course of succession following release from hay and corn. Faculty and students in the Biology program conduct research on campus lands and in the Poultney River. Topics include:
- Genetic structure of northern brook lamprey populations in the Champlain Basin
- A spatially explicit study of environmental influence on Beech Bark disease
- Carnivore surveys in the Southern Lake Champlain Valley
- Effects of coarse woody debris on tree seedling establishment in floodplain forest restoration
- Genetic structure and its implications for the ecology and conservation of fish populations in the Champlain Basin
- Ecology and Systematics of Dragonflies and Damselflies in Vermont
A sense of place produced by the natural areas and green spaces found throughout campus is an important aspect of our connection with the land. With a section of the Poultney Community Trail and other recreational trails located on our main campus, there are many opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to enjoy the lands.
The scenic Poultney River attracts students to swim, study, meet, jump from the rope swing, and otherwise enjoy their surroundings. At Deane Preserve, two routes to the top of St. Catherine Mountain offer a choice of moderate and steep ascents, and the west-facing bluff on top offer great views of Lake St. Catherine and the distant Adirondacks.
On the main campus, there are approximately 39 acres of designated Natural Areas, about a third of total land area. These are home to native flora and fauna in a variety of floodplain habitats, including riparian forests, hay and corn fields in various stages of succession, marshland, and low wooded areas. Near the river, the college maintains a 35-meter wide buffer zone that provides ecosystem services, field sites for classes and studies of the river and riparian forests, and recreational opportunities. The Poultney Community Trail, located near the Poultney River, is maintained for skiing and hiking. The trail links campus with the town of Poultney and its rail trail.
In addition to providing ecological and societal benefits, the Natural Areas address conservation goals set at both state and regional levels by organizations such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, and the Poultney-Mettowee Natural Resource Conservation District.
The College’s Natural Areas Policy guides the use and management of College natural areas. Users are asked to practice Leave-No-Trace principles. The policies also provide guidelines for sustainable use of the areas, removal of invasive species, planting native species, restoration of areas such as the old corn and hay fields, and cleanup.
Campus Lands Information and Land Use Proposals
The Land Use Committee advises the Provost and College Cabinet to maintain and enhance the values of campus lands in keeping with the mission of the College. It provides recommendations to the Cabinet on land policy, and on any proposed projects that will change land use, appearance, safety, maintenance requirements, ecosystem function, or species composition. Follow the Land Use Proposal guidelines, and send as an email attachment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Land use proposals are often needed for new field research projects, field-based academic programs, outdoor art projects, changes in land use or land management, new structures, and landscape plantings.
Deane Nature Preserve information
Deane Committee at email@example.com.
Cerridwen Farm Information
Farm and Food Program.
Student Campus Greening Fund Proposals
Contact the SCGF director.