- John Sawhill
In 2003, a small group of community members formed the South Burlington Land Trust, Inc. (“SBLT”) out of growing concern for the loss of natural areas due to rapidly increasing suburban development in the City. Forests, wetlands, farmlands, and other natural areas provide important habitat for wildlife, preserve water quality, and create recreational and cultural opportunities for South Burlington residents and visitors. SBLT’s membership has grown to nearly 100 members of the community.
In 2008, South Burlington was named the top town in the country for raising a family (Family Circle, August 2008). The natural attributes of being located on the shores of Lake Champlain and close to the Green Mountains make South Burlington a desirable location to live. The SBLT is dedicated to protecting South Burlington’s special features, specifically its natural resources through land conservation vehicles, to maintain this high quality of life. Partnerships are established with other conservation organizations and individuals to protect natural areas in South Burlington and Vermont as a whole.
The heritage of South Burlington from settlement (1780’s) until World War II centered entirely on farming, first mixed subsistence farming, then sheep and later dairy. The area now included in our borders was once part of Burlington. On January 18, 1865, the City of Burlington was established by act of the Legislature, but the eastern and southern portions were set off separately as the Town of South Burlington. And so it remained until 1971 when South Burlington also adopted a city form of government. Our rural character had extended well into the 1950’s when, for example, the Sheraton Hotel complex was still a working farm and traffic on Williston Road stopped twice a day as the cows crossed to and from their pasture where Staples Plaza is today. Mayfair Park was the first and only suburban development until the late 1940’s. Exponential population growth began with the returning WWII veterans buying homes and starting families. Farms along the Dorset, Hinesburg, Spear and Shelburne corridors began to sell off land to developers and the pace has escalated ever since. By the 1980’s and 1990’s some citizens began to think more about what we were losing. SBLT grew out of that concern.