South Hero Land Trust and Lake Champlain Land Trust Working to Conserve Local Woodland

Surrounded by Lake Champlain, with open fields, rich wetlands, and stunning cedar bluffs, South Hero is a very special place to call home. At the very heart of our town are 49 acres of beautiful woodlands, fields, and historic trails known as the Tracy Woods. South Hero Land Trust and the Lake Champlain Land Trust are thrilled to be working with the Tracy/ King family to conserve this important natural and agricultural resource. With 35 acres of rich woodlands sheltering spring wildflowers, songbirds, and amphibians; 10 acres of open farm fields grazed by sheep and cows; and a network of walking trails, this property is a showcase for stewardship and community access to the land in Vermont.

The History of Our Working Landscape and Stewardship of our Natural Resources

The Tracy family has carefully stewarded the natural resources of their home in South Hero since 1841. They have created a unique balance of well-managed forest, active farm fields, and marshy shoreline habitat that exemplify the special history and culture of South Hero.

Charles Tracy, father of current steward Hobart Tracy, was a forester who managed the woods with care and compassion. His hand-drawn maps of the woods guided the placement of the mile of community trails that will open to the public through the successful completion of the Tracy Woods Conservation Project.

Hobart Tracy, his wife Naomi King, and his daughter Anne Tracy hope to honor and continue Charles’ legacy of stewardship and community connections through this conservation project, which will permanently protect these unique woods and fields. 

Unique Nature Trails to be Opened for the Community

Here at South Hero Land Trust, we love getting outside and enjoying the natural world, and we’ve worked hard to make sure that great places for walking and exploring are protected in our community. We are very excited that the highlight of this project will be a mile of public access walking trails. The Tracy Woods are filled with spring wildflowers and diverse tree communities, and the wooded wetland is habitat for frogs, salamanders, and other animals. The trails will provide walkers a special opportunity to connect with nature in South Hero, a place for local families to get outside and active, and an outdoor classroom for learning and community service for local students.

Diverse Natural Communities to Be Conserved

The 35 acre forest is a unique and valuable resource. There are five distinct natural communities, including Lakeside Floodplain Forest and Dry Oak-Hickory-Hophornbeam Forest. These natural communities are habitat for an array of animals, such as great blue heron, mink, and four-toed salamander, as well as myriad pollinators. Shagbark hickory, black cherry, hemlock, American elm, and many other tree species grow in the woods. Rich soils are perfect for spring wildflowers, like bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit, and trillium.

Farmland Protection to Support Flower Business

In addition to the woodlands, the Tracy property has over 10 acres of fertile agricultural soils that are currently in pasture and hay land for the family’s small flock of sheep. This land was also once home to Lemon Lily Farm, a small perennial flower business specializing in day lilies and other perennials, owned by Naomi King. Once the land is conserved, Naomi plans to re-open Lemon Lily Farm, which will share a small parking area with the trailhead. Customers will be able to visit the gardens and walk the trails at the same time. We are excited to be supporting a family owed agricultural business through this project.

Protecting the Heart of South Hero

We all have special places in our life. Whether a rambling stream, a city lot overgrown with flowers, or a fort in the woods, we hold these places deep in our hearts. For many in the Islands, the woods, fields, and shore are where we first became explorers, builders, artists, and conservationists.

The Tracy Woods are a piece of our heart—a celebration of the history of our home and of our hope for a future filled with children playing in the woods, birds building nests, and spring wildflowers in abundance. By conserving the woods, fields, views, and shoreline of the Tracy Woods, the land will remain a place of exploration, discovery, and magic for generations to come.