The Michael Dunn property in Derby is now part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The 458-acre parcel, on the shore of Lake Memphremagog along the state’s border with Canada, was donated to the US Fish and Wildlife Service according to the terms of the Michael Dunn Trust and is now legally owned by the federal government. Closing for the property took place today in Newport.The property, with a mile of lake front, will be managed as the Eagle Point Wildlife Management Area of the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, based in Swanton, through a cooperative agreement with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The agreement is expected to be signed in the near future.Traditional recreational use of the property may continue, and the agreement will continue to allow for wildlife-related activities such as fishing and hunting. That provision initially had been a sticking point with the state of Vermont, which was concerned that the federal system would exclude those traditional uses of the property, but those issues were eventually resolved. Quebec previously accepted a bequest from Dunn on its side of the border for 420 acres.Dunn died in 2007 and the final agreement had to be reached within three years. Failing that, the land would have been sold and the proceeds would have gone to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which has received a $10 million from Dunn’s estate. ‘I am very pleased with the collective effort of so many parties working together to realize Michael Dunn’s vision,’ said Mark Frederick, president and CEO of Community Financial Services Group, which managed fulfillment of the terms of the trust. ‘ For generations to come, people will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of this property while engaging in recreational activities that preserve Vermont values and traditions.”‘We are grateful for Michael Dunn’s generosity and the efforts of our conservation partners that made it possible for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to add this property to the National Wildlife Refuge System,’ said Marvin Moriarty, northeast regional director for the Service.US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said ‘This was a project of great promise and tight deadlines, requiring an extra measure of dedication from all involved in achieving it. Everyone who moved this project to and across the finish line — including local officials, the State of Vermont and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — should be proud of a job well done. You have honored Michael Dunn’s generous vision and have helped convey a living legacy that will benefit generations of Vermonters and other Americans of today and tomorrow.”US Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said ‘Congratulations to all of the partners whose persistent work together is making Michael Dunn’s vision a reality. Generations of Vermonters and visitors now will be able to enjoy this beautiful piece of Vermont.’Several organizations worked together to make it possible for the Service to acquire the property. The partnership includes the Vermont Land Trust, Community Financial Services Group, attorney Jake Wheeler of the law firm Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, and Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources. An environmental assessment and input from area residents and other constituents strongly supported the acquisition.Several farmstead buildings were removed prior to the property transfer.A news release was issued in August 2010 announcing the Service’s acceptance of the donation. View the release on the Service’s regional newsroom at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/newsroom(link is external).The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The service is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for its scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on its work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov(link is external).Source: Downs Rachlin Martin. 12.8.2010.