To Vermonters, the aging barns dotting their landscape are as important to the state's character—and tourism—as maple syrup or skiing. But the cost of maintaining them and the decline in family farms have taken a heavy toll, the Boston Globe reports. Now the state is conducting a "barn census" to catalog the structures that speak of Vermont's agricultural heritage as the first step toward preserving them.
"They're not just wood and stone," said the state's architectural historian, Nancy Boone. "They're about history, and they're about the life that happened inside them." With federal support, volunteers are logging every ash house and mink shed they find for an online map. Boone hopes the project will raise awareness and spur innovative ideas for preservation of the barns that still stand, estimated at between 5,000 and 20,000.