An East Montpelier woman who loved wildlife bequeathed her estate to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department upon her death.
Mamie Thurston died last winter at the age of 87. Her home, property, belongings, and financial assets valued at more than $500,000 are being transferred to the department at her bequest.
Mrs. Thurston was an avid birder and a lover of all wildlife, according to Pat Griffen, estate executor and family friend. “She enjoyed watching the birds at her feeder every winter or watching the deer in her backyard,” said Griffen. “In the end, she decided to leave everything to serve the wildlife that she loved.”
The donation will go to the Nongame Wildlife Fund, which is used to conserve nongame species such as bald eagles, loons, lynx, spiny softshell turtles, lake sturgeon, and many species of bats. The program is funded through a combination of private donations and federal State Wildlife Grants, which have been hard hit by recent federal budget cuts.
“This generous gift will begin to fill in the gaps from our budget shortfalls,” said Steve Parren, director of the wildlife diversity program for the Fish & Wildlife Department. “Mrs. Thurston’s legacy will long be reflected by the species and lands that her donation will help protect.”
Patrick Berry, commissioner of the Fish & Wildlife Department also lauded Mrs. Thurston’s donation. “Through her thoughtful bequest, Mamie Thurston has provided a legacy of nongame conservation that is so highly valued by Vermonters,” said Berry. “This invaluable support will help protect and conserve some of Vermont’s most imperiled species. I encourage others to consider supporting the Nongame Wildlife Fund in their charitable giving and estate planning.”
Funds from Mrs. Thurston’s donation will be met with a nearly three to one match through federal grants.
Vermonters can donate to the nongame wildlife fund directly on line 29 of their tax return or at www.vtfishandwildlife.com, or by purchasing a conservation license plate.