PUTNEY -- The Putney Mountain Association has closed on a 144-acre parcel that connects two conserved areas near the popular mountain top hiking area.
The Putney Mountain Association was able to raise about $424,000 to purchase the Hannum-O'Connor land, which has been in the Hannum and O'Connor families since the 1920s.
Martha O'Connor, Al Hannum and Judy Hannum, the former owners, attended the closing ceremony when the Putney Mountain Association took over ownership of the property.
"It was an amazing fundraising campaign," said Putney Mountain Association board member Emily McAdoo. "The fundraising team was extremely dedicated, and met consistently over the year to meet our goal.
The group was helped by a $195,000 grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, but the rest of the money came in through donations large and small.
About $132,000, or 31 percent of the total, was raised through local donations.
Grants were also received from the Open Space Institute, Fields Pond Foundation, The William P. Wharton Trust, Davis Conservation Foundation and the Windham Foundation.
A benefit concert was held in July with the band The Devil Makes Three which McAdoo said helped the group reach its goal.
Vermont Land Trust Southeast Regional Director Joan Weir said it was a large parcel with a pretty big price tag and she said when the project first came across her desk she was not sure the group would be able to pull it off.
"For the most part they took on all aspects of the fundraising and negotiated the deal with the family," Weir said. "It's remarkable what they were able to accomplish."
The Vermont Land Trust holds the easement on the property and helped the Putney Mountain Association with the fundraising.
Weir said the Vermont Land Trust was trying to raise money to conserve the Bunker Farm at the same time that the Putney Mountain Association was trying to raise money, and she was not sure there was enough capacity in Windham County to tackle two large projects.
"In the end we got both projects done," she said. "They were really able to communicate to people how critical this parcel was and they were able to provide a convincing message why this was so important to acquire. It says a lot about them as an organization."
The new property links the Dine Property and the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, and includes important frontage on Holland Hill Road which allow hikers to enter the conserved property.
McAdoo said The Putney Mountain Association will be putting a kiosk on Holland Hill Road and eventually will develop trails across the area.
"When we closed on the property the family members said they wanted this land to be available to their grandchildren," McAdoo said.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow him on Twitter.