Matsinger Forest

John and Barbara Mastinger's vision for forest stewardship, environmental education, and community access will be fulfilled through the creation of a nature preserve in Danville, VT.

John and Barbara Mastinger's vision for forest stewardship, environmental education, and community access will be fulfilled through the creation of a nature preserve in Danville, VT.

January 6, 2023| Categories: Fairbanks Museum, What's Happening

The Fairbanks Museum and Vermont Land Trust announce the creation of the Fairbanks Museum Nature Preserve at Matsinger Forest in Danville, Vermont.  The 500+ acre parcel located near Greenbanks Hollow was given to the Fairbanks Museum by John and Barbara Matsinger in December 2022 to fulfil their vision for forest stewardship, environmental education, and community access to the natural world.

The creation of the Fairbanks Museum Nature Preserve at Matsinger Forest represents three decades of discussion and partnership between the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), the Fairbanks Museum, and John and Barbara Matsinger. In 1992, the Matsingers protected a 180-acre parcel by conserving it with the Vermont Land Trust. Since then, they have acquired adjacent parcels and partnered with VLT to conserve many of those as well for education and recreation. Today nearly 390 acres are protected with VLT. Between 1992 and 2006, the Matsingers placed conservation easements on the property in partnership with the Vermont Land Trust, while making provisions for the future use of the property for educational activities.

Barbara and John Matsinger at their home in Danville.

“John and Barbara have been exemplary land stewards, and we are thrilled to see their long-held dream come true,” said Tracy Zschau, Vice President of Land Protection at VLT. “Lovers of wildlife, they began working with us in 1992 with the hope that their lands would one day support ecological research and education, and benefit the community. We are delighted to welcome the Fairbanks Museum as a partner in caring for this land.”

With the gift of the property completed, the Fairbanks Museum anticipates opening Matsinger Forest to the public in late 2023 pending local and state permitting, and the installation of an access driveway and parking lot.  The Museum will use Matsinger Forest for educational programs and scientific research, while establishing a trail system and facilities for non-motorized recreation. According to Adam Kane, Executive Director of the Fairbanks Museum, “The Matsinger Forest is the perfect wilderness complement to the Fairbanks Museum’s curated natural history displays.”

The parcel is a microcosm of biomes found in northern Vermont.  The land is dominated by northern hardwood forest, but contains vernal pools, beaver ponds, hemlock stands, meadows, and northern white cedar swamps.

Funding for the upkeep of the property in perpetuity has been secured through the creation of a dedicated endowment fund at the Vermont Community Foundation by John and Barbara Matsinger.

Tags: Danville, Fairbanks Museum, nature preserve, Northeast Kingdom, outdoor education, vermont, Vermont Land Trust, VLT