Barre Town Forest
Over 100 years ago, Millstone Hill was the site of more than 75 small independent quarry operations that fostered the town of Barre’s growth and prosperity in the 19th century. Virtually every square foot of Millstone Hill was cleared and quarried. During the 20th century, as quarry operations consolidated, these smaller independents closed down. Gradually the quarries filled with water and the forests returned, reclaiming a virtual industrial wasteland and turning it into a cultural, historical and recreational treasure for the central Vermont region.
The Trust for Public Land worked with the Millstone Trails Association and the Town of Barre to create a new community forest for the Town of Barre out of 355 acres of former quarry land owned by Rock of Ages Corporation and private owners. Municipal ownership and management of the Barre Town Forest supports local resource-based jobs and provides a stream of timber revenues to the Town. Permanent protection of the land in Town ownership also expands opportunities for tourism and recreation, and protects wildlife habitat and water quality.
The town forest is part of a 70-mile trail network built by volunteers with the non-profit Millstone Trails Association. Ranked as one of the top 10 mountain biking destinations in New England by the Boston Globe in 2009, the Millstone Hill trail network also provides recreational opportunities for cross country skiers, hikers, hunters and snowmobilers. A recent economic analysis by the Gund Institute at the University of Vermont estimates that the Barre Town Forest and trail system will result in an annual economic benefit of $640,000 from visitor spending and support 20 local jobs by 2015.