DERBY - The Michael Dunn legacy is fully coming to life.
Dunn passed away unexpectedly in 2007 and surprised everyone with his bequest: a generous public gift to both Vermont and Canada.
Dunn owned more than 800 acres around Lake Memphremagog, with approximately 400 acres on each side of the border. He left the land to both governments if they decided to accept the gift, which both did.
Friday, a public celebration and dedication of the Eagle Point Wildlife Management Area at Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge was held on the Dunn property.
The dedication honored the late Michael Dunn and celebrated his legacy.
Nearly 100 people turned out for the event, which included key note speakers who talked about all the hard work it took to bring Dunnâ€™s dream to fruition. The property on the U.S. side is owned by the federal government but managed by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.
The partnership of Community Financial Services Group (Trustee of Michael Dunn), Vermont Agency of Natural Resources/Fish & Wildlife Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Vermont Land Trust worked together to make the dream a reality.
The 457 acres in the United States will continue to serve as a local resource for public enjoyment.
The property includes 183 acres of wetland, 54 acres of woodland, 220 acres of productive agricultural land, and more than 6,300 feet of frontage on Lake Memphremagog. The area is home to rare species including plants and birds, woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, and shorelines providing a variety of habitats.
Work on the property is underway, which includes walking paths, wildlife observation areas, information kiosks, as well as parking lots.
The area provides a safe haven to a number of migratory prairie birds and the population of birds is growing. To keep the grassland birds thriving, mowing will only occur once a year in late August to ensure that the grassland birds have completed nesting, the eggs have hatched, and the new birds have learned to fly.
Vermont Electric Cooperative donated wood poles for osprey platforms for the property, and now osprey are making use of their new space.
Dunnâ€™s bequest also gave a donation of more than $10 million to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which according to an article in the New Yorker magazine, took the museum completely by surprise.
Michael Dunn was known as a quiet man who lived frugally and enjoyed books, traveling and cooking for his friends. He collected art, books, duck decoys and watches. He died in Zurich, Switzerland, at age 65.