The Putney Mountain Association (PMA) was established in 1946 by a small group of Putney residents who wished to assure that Putney Mountain, a popular local lookout, remained undeveloped and accessible to the public. They purchased a 45-acre tract including the lookout and surrounding woodlands lying just above the Putney Town Forest, which had been donated to the Town in the thirties. . In the 1960’s, the uplands began to experience development, as houses with spectacular views began to appear on the crest, limiting public access. In the early nineties PMA, in collaboration with the newly-formed Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association to the north, became more proactive in conserving undeveloped lands along the ridge. Its Board was enlarged, a membership drive begun, and a strategy developed to conserve and enlarge its holdings.
Eleven years into the twenty-first century, membership has risen to over 700. With generous private and public assistance PMA acquired four parcels of ridge-land – four by purchase and one by donation – raising our total acreage from the original 45 to 394. All were placed under conservation easements held jointly by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Land Trust, assuring that they will remain forever a protected wildlife habitat with managed, low-impact human access. A Stewardship Endowment helps assure future organizational stability. Through the acquisition of two significant easements, and two provisional passage agreements, our lands are now connected with the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association’s lands to the north, establishing the Windmill Ridge Nature Reserve and Trail facilitating the development of major segments of the projected 14-mile Ridge Trail. It has also created a major protected, ridge-line wildlife habitat corridor, a resource much needed in southern Vermont, where valley development is increasingly encroaching on historic wildlife migration corridors.
Other activities include a volunteer-based monitoring program designed to provide information about the condition of amphibian, mammal, and ground-nesting bird populations in the Reserve. In league with local Audubon Societies our Association sponsors the annual Fall Putney Mountain Hawk Watch,, which provides valuable scientific information about raptor migration patterns. In cooperation with the Putney School we are creating a self-guided Nature Trail in the summit area. Exploratory discussions are also underway to extend the trail system south through Dummerston.