Northeastern Section - 49th Annual Meeting (23–25 March)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:35 PM


MANGO, Helen, Dept. Natural Sciences, Castleton State College, 233 South Street, Castleton, VT 05735,

The Nature Conservancy owns and manages the Helen W. Buckner Memorial Preserve in West Haven, Vermont. The 4000-acre preserve has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the state. It is located on the border of New York State, bounded on the south by the Poultney River and on the west by the South Bay of Lake Champlain. It is an environmentally sensitive and important tract of land. The first section of the access road (a few hundred meters) closely follows the Poultney River. Along the banks of the river are several illegal garbage dumps and burn piles. The garbage dumps contain household trash (from diapers to batteries), junked furniture and mattresses, construction debris, and commercial waste such as obsolete computer components. Observation of the burn piles indicates that the same materials are routinely set on fire. Preliminary geochemical analyses of burn pile remains show concentrations of lead (>4000 ppm), zinc (>2500 ppm), copper (>1%), arsenic (>50 ppm), gold (>200 ppb), nickel (>200 ppm), chromium (>200 ppm), manganese (>1700 ppm), antimony (>5000 ppm) and bromine (~2%) that are greatly elevated above background levels. These findings are consistent with the observation of partially burned computer components, plastics, batteries, and other synthetic materials. More detailed sampling and analysis will attempt to determine the range of concentrations of different elements, their mobility at the surface and in the subsurface, and whether heavy metals and other contaminants are entering the Poultney River with its diverse populations of native mussels and other organisms.