Canaan, VT — 424 acres completed

For generations, residents of Canaan, Vermont, had used several hundred acres of forestland owned by Neil and Louise Tillotson—owners of the Tillotson Corporation and the Balsams Grand Resort—for a variety of traditional uses. When the Neil Tillotson Trust offered the land to the town, people were excited by the opportunity to own the land and the responsibility of stewarding it. They recognized the strong cultural ties to forestland in general and the historical recreational uses of the Tillotson property. The town formed a Community Forest committee to plan for ownership and management of the forestland.

Today, the town of Canaan owns a 424-acre Community Forest with a conservation easement on 368 acres to ensure that the majority of the property will be kept undeveloped for all time. The working forest is generating income through sustainable timber harvests, providing recreational opportunities, protecting the local water supply and providing an outdoor classroom for a range of classes including earth science and training related to forest-based businesses.

The remaining 56 acres of the property has no easement and is available for the town to use for economic development.

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"We can build a good cross-country ski trail, keep the snowmobile trail open and build a sugar house for students to run. Jobs around here are going to be in natural resources and tourism. The Community Forest gives us a place to train students who could go on to work for forest-based businesses, land management agencies and nonprofits."

—Chris Masson, superintendent of Canaan’s school district

Center staff guided the town in getting ready to own forestland. For two years, the Center facilitated and assisted the Canaan Forest Committee in governance issues, natural resource inventories, easement negotiations, and stewardship planning.