Fundraising efforts help conserve Haystack summit
By Lucia Suarez
Staff Writer | February 28,2013
PAWLET — Susan Sargent has called the top of Haystack Mountain the “crown jewel” because of its 360-degree views into the Mettowe valley.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Sargent and the Friends of Haystack nonprofit organization, hikers will be able to appreciate the various trails and views from the summit without the worry that access could be closed off or that it could be developed down the line.
The Friends of Haystack recently announced they rallied together with the greater Pawlet community to raise more than $130,000 to purchase more than 65.5 acres of land in the mountain’s summit.
“It’s really exciting, starting out the of the blue like we did,” said Sargent, who is the nonprofit’s president.
The nonprofit organization based in Pawlet was created by a group of hikers and conservationists in late 2011 after learning someone actually owned the property. The group ultimately decided to become the stewards of the property and approached owner David Barrow of St. Albans.
Barrow’s family had owned the summit at Haystack for several generations and had not intention of selling it. But they changed their minds and gave the group until Dec. 31 2012 to come up with the money. And they did.
“I am delighted to see the depth of support and how much the mountaintop means to the local community,” said Barrow in a statement. “Since it has been in our family for generations, I am glad it is going to be so appreciated and used by so many as it has been over many, many years.”
Friends of Haystack raised more than $140,000 solely through private donations from residents and concerned citizens. Sargent said they received several sizable donations, but also small amounts from people who knew it was important to save the mountain from any possible development.
“They just really cared,” she said.
Sargent, who had been on several conservation boards in the state, said this fundraising campaign was the easiest she had ever done. She said because everyone who donated was connected to Haystack is one way or another.
“Everybody has a story about Haystack,” she said.
With this purchase, the summit now joins the more than 900 acres around Haystack that are owned or are under conservation easements by the Vermont Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy.
For the complete story, see Friday's Rutland Herald.