Marlboro College preserves land for the future

MARLBORO, Vt. (WCAX) Marlboro College sits on a sprawling 400-acre property in southern Vermont. For many students, the land was a big factor in their decision to come here.

"It is academically really important to me and also personally, spiritually, emotionally. I think having outdoor spaces and taking care of our planet and the things that live on it are really important," said Lydia Nuhfer, a sophomore.

Nuhfer and others have taken that passion one step further. A 130-acre parcel, that has been forested in the past, is being set aside as a land reserve. It will no longer be logged or development down the road.

"If the need arises to build, we can build up rather than out," said Ben Rybisky, a senior.

Marlboro College's community governance model gave the students a seat at the table for that decision. But ultimately, it was up to the board of trustees.

"We typically harvest in Vermont at around 80 to 100 years, so trees that can live up to 300, 400 years, those forests don't have a chance to develop in that way," said Jenny Ramstetter, an environmental studies professor.

Ramstetter also helped moved the project forward. It was first proposed by students in 2004.

"I'm also really hoping that this can serve as inspiration for other conservation lands that might include no timber harvest zones," Ramstetter said.

Class work and recreation will still take place in these woods. Senior Ben Rybisky is Native American.

"A big part of indigenous culture is looking forward to the next seven generations. And in order to look forward to the next seven generations, you have to have a long-term plan in effect," Rybisky said.

A plan many years in the making which was recently approved by the college.

"Afterward, we left the room and we were all cheering and ran back to the dining hall and made an announcement, so it was really exciting," Nuhfer said.

And the fact that generations to come will benefit is something the students say makes the announcement that much more important.