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Charlotte, Vermont Agricultural Landscape
Cultural Landscape Type: Evolved Continuing
Project Name: Charlotte Land Trust, Helping to Protect and Preserve the Rural, Agricultural Landscape of Charlotte
Project Type: Management/Stewardship/Legal Elements check type: Landscape Management Systems, Laws/Ordinances for Cultural Landscape Protection
Location: Charlotte, Lake Champlain Basin, Vermont, USA Latitude: 44.31° N / Longitude: 73.24° W
Cultural Landscape Size: 50.4 sq mi (130.6 sq km)
Property Owner/Steward: Mixture of Public and Private
Funding: Not reported
Relevant Historical Dates: 1762 Town of Charlotte chartered; 1986 Charlotte Land Trust Founded
Historic Landscape Architect, Designers: n/a
The Charlotte Land Trust (CLT) is a NGO with a mission of preserving the significant landscape features of Charlotte, Vermont. Charlotte is a small community on the edge of Vermont’s most populous and rapidly growing metropolitan area. The town enjoys a spectacular setting in the Lake Champlain Valley of western Vermont, with sweeping vistas to the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. These features and a variety of cultural, educational and recreational amenities have put considerable development pressure on the town. Maintaining Charlotte’s rural landscape while still accommodating growth has been a central focus of CLT.
The predominant landscape pattern of Charlotte and the Champlain Valley is a patchwork of agricultural fields and forested areas. This pattern has evolved since the 1800’s in response to first sheep and now dairy farming. The erosion of the dairy economy has sped the conversion of agricultural land to housing. Although zoning and subdivision regulations have provided some preservation of agricultural lands, land conservation has been an essential tool for significant preservation.
Land trusts such as CLT use conservation to remove the development potential from land and to compensate landowners through direct payment for that development value and/or through income tax savings. Funding for conservation is through individual donors, private foundations and governmental grant programs. Conservation removes development rights from land in perpetuity.
In recognition of Charlotte’s historic and predominant landscape pattern CLT concentrates on the preservation of agricultural lands. Conservation has not only protected these lands from development but has also enhanced the continuation of farms and farming in the community. A secondary, although still important, focus is the preservation of forest and natural areas, with an aim of maintaining a contiguity and mass of acreage to support wildlife habitat and significant forest types.
. . .deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world.
World Heritage Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 1972