Featured News | Vermont

A Hallowed Hollow in the Green Mountains

“Both my mom and my dad took me up to the waterfall when I was pretty darn young. All these years later, I still don’t worry about drinking the water. I lived in a lot of other places where you can’t drink the water, and that makes my hair crawl. This water is sacred to me.”

– Paedra Bramhall

With its source beneath the Appalachian Trail, just a short distance away from the Preserve, Bridgewater Hollow Creek protects excellent habitat for native brook trout.

To say that Paedra Bramhall has been shaped by 359-acres of steep hillsides, rushing streams, magical hemlock groves, and towering hardwoods in the Green Mountains of Central Vermont would be an understatement. Born in 1942 in a rustic cabin on the property that had neither running water nor electricity, the deep folds of this classic Green Mountain landscape are etched into Paedra and played a supporting role throughout her growth as a talented sculptor and blown glass artist. Perhaps most importantly, the warm embrace of the land provided the courage, confidence and space Paedra needed to thrive in her newfound identity as a transgender woman.

Paedra’s moving story is the backdrop for a unique conservation opportunity. The Bridgewater Hollow Bramhall Preserve in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont, is a project that aims to live up to Paedra’s legacy as a careful and respectful steward of this beautiful, mature forest and its cascading brooks.

Mature forest in the Bridgewater Hollow Bramhall Preserve.

“I believe we can never truly own land; we can live on it,” says Paedra. “We can be the caretakers and stewards of the land. In 50 years, I hope others will walk this land in awe that someone had the courage to set aside these acres.”

The Bridgewater Preserve is a mix of upland and riparian forest types at the core of a 50,000-acre forest block that includes the Green Mountain National Forest, the Les Newell Wildlife Management Area, the Appalachian Trail corridor, and privately owned and conserved timberlands. The property falls within the Ottauquechee River Conservation Focus Area, and the project has support from the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission. Vermont River Conservancy will hold a forever wild easement on the property and will develop a short trail for public access on foot.

While the property has a forest of impressive age and complexity, the Bridgewater Preserve’s water features may be its most remarkable attributes. Eighty-eight acres of riparian habitat buffer nearly two miles of waterways, including the North Branch of the Ottauquechee River and two smaller tributaries, providing exceptional habitat for native brook trout, a species threatened by climate change.

An example of Paedra Bramhall’s beautiful glasswork.

But for Paedra, the value of the land and water is personal. “Every artist, if they’re focused on their own vision, has to isolate themselves in one form or another.  For me, this was my starting place.  It gave me the chance to walk out into the woods and be quiet. The peace and clean water have always been important to my artwork. Without it, who knows.”

Inspired by the land and water on her property, and by her own life’s story of renewal, transformation, and discovery, Paedra’s unique and highly acclaimed artwork does away with the dichotomy between nature and human.  Her art blends earth-bound forms with the surreal and supernatural and often explores feminine sexuality, investigating and reflecting on her personal journey. Paedra’s glasswork and sculpture is sought by collectors and museums.

Spurred by a generous donation from Paedra through a bargain-sale to Northeast Wilderness Trust and a grant from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, this important property is well on its way to being permanently protected.  Will you help make this beautiful, mature forest and its clear streams forever-wild?

“This corner of Vermont is probably as good a place, or perhaps the best place, that I could have chosen to grow my studio over the years. I don’t know how many times I walked out into the woods just to find myself, but I always walked back out of the woods quietly laughing in wonderment of where I live and create my art.”

Learn more about the landscape and watch a film of the property, here.
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We can’t protect the Bridgewater Hollow Bramhall Preserve without your help!  If you are as avid about protecting the Northeast’s wild places as we are, please consider a gift in support of our work. Northeast Wilderness Trust is the only land trust exclusively focused on forever-wild preservation in our region. With your help, we can conserve wildlands and waters for nature and people, alike. Become a member of our Forever-Wild Circle and help sustain our critical work from month-to-month and year-to-year!

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Comments

  1. Marisa Riggi says:

    A beautiful and moving story! Thank you for your dedication to wilderness, Paedra.

  2. Thank you Paedra for having the vision to save this.

  3. Claudia says:

    It is on my bucket list to visit some Summer time ahead when I can go up North. It seems that always the South calls me, but one day I will make it there to this lovely place,, Claudia.

  4. Peter says:

    Yes, I must visit….this is wonderful!

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