The Nature Conservancy completes protection of Chickering Bog

News Release — The Nature Conservancy
April 9, 2014

Media Contacts:
Jon Binhammer, The Nature Conservancy, 802-229-4425 x110

Ethan Parke, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, 802-828-0795

Robert Klein, retired former State Director of Vermont Nature Conservancy, 802-223-3262

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has completed the protection of Chickering Bog Natural Area, located on the border of Calais and East Montpelier, in honor of retiring State Director Bob Klein. Klein spearheaded the conservation of the bog 35 years ago during his first year at the Conservancy in1979.

On Klein’s final day in the office, TNC closed on the purchase of 108 acres, which completed the protection of the bog and its watershed and more than doubled the size of the protected area, which now stands at 237 acres. Completing the project was a fitting tribute to Klein’s long-standing career, which during his tenure saw the protection of over 100,000 acres across Vermont.

Heather Furman, Klein’s successor as State Director of the Vermont Chapter, praised Klein for his continuity and drive, “Bob was determined in his quest to conserve the most ecologically significant sites in Vermont, like Chickering Bog – future generations will be grateful for his persistence.”

Chickering Bog is actually not a bog at all, but a fen. Fens are fed by mineral-rich waters from the surrounding bedrock, unlike bogs that are dependent on rainwater and are acidic. Chickering Bog is one of the largest fens of its type in Vermont. Originally formed in the last glaciation nearly 10,000 years ago, minerals like calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate dissolve in water to make it slightly alkaline. Unusual plants like bog buckbean and some orchids thrive in this watery oxygen deprived peatland, and nowhere else. Over the millennia, the fen was excavated by glaciers and filled in with a thick mat of sphagnum moss that is close to 30 feet deep.

Straddling the Calais-East Montpelier town line, and just 15 minutes from downtown Montpelier, the Chickering Bog Natural Area is a well-loved nature preserve in Washington County, where visitors can hike through spruce and fir woods to a boardwalk that actually floats on the bog. With its boreal landscape, which more commonly characterizes landscapes found in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the site is frequently visited by a number of local school classrooms, where it can feel like a world away.

Jon Binhammer, Protection Director, who worked on the project, sees Chickering Bog as an ecological jewel with features that attract hunters, hikers, and birdwatchers alike. “We are thankful to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Town of Calais Conservation Commission, and private individuals who shared our vision for conserving Chickering Bog. Today, thanks to Bob’s original vision and our many supporters, people will be able to enjoy the wildlife and solace found here”.

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  • Mary Alice Bisbee

    I am very happy that this land and bog have been conserved!
    Is there any interest in setting aside part of the “land” surrounding the bog as a Green Burial Site? There is much interest in having this option available in Central Vermont….

  • Charlie Hohn

    The soil disturbance associated with green burial could disturb the bog, I’d imagine. I think it’s a great idea to have a green burial area, but I’d say use an old-field forest that is regrowing. In addition to being less sensitive to disturbance, the theme of renewal and regrowth pervades these sorts of forests. I’d rather be buried amidst old cellar holes and stone walls than in a fragile bog, myself.

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