140 Acres on Prickley Mt. Protected (VT)

WARREN, Vermont, 4/4/02: Today, the U.S. Forest Service acquired approximately 140 acres on Prickley Mountain, overlooking Blueberry Lake, as an addition to the Green Mountain National Forest. The land was purchased from the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit conservation organization, which bought the property in January 2001 to protect it from development until it could be added to the National Forest. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy, Congress appropriated funds last year from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for this acquisition.

“Blueberry Lake and its setting are a great addition to the Green Mountain National Forest, offering a range of recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors in keeping with the Town of Warren’s desire to conserve this special area,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

“I am pleased that this natural gem has been preserved for all Vermonters for all time,” said Senator and Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Jim Jeffords (I-VT). “Many thanks are due to the Trust for Public Land, the Town of Warren and the U.S. Forest Service, and to Senator Leahy for his leadership.”

The effort to protect Blueberry Lake reached its first milestone in 2000, when the Town of Warren acquired a 4-acre property on Mills Brook, including the small dam that forms the Lake. Several months later, TPL helped the Green Mountain National Forest acquire roughly 370 acres around this local swimming hole, including nearly the entire lakeshore. Today’s addition of 140 acres on Prickley Mountain marks the conclusion of this multi-year project, which has protected more than 514 acres in all.

“The forested hillsides form the scenic views enjoyed by visitors to Blueberry Lake,” commented TPL senior project manager Julie Iffland. “We are very proud to have been part of the partnership that worked to conserve another piece of this striking landscape.”

“The addition of these key properties to the Green Mountain National Forest will enhance public benefits and allow the Forest Service to better manage a contiguous block of land,” said Paul Brewster, forest supervisor for the Forest Service. “This will enable continued public access and allow for increased collaboration with our partners in Warren and the Mad River Valley. This would not have been possible without the help of Senator Patrick Leahy and the Vermont Delegation, the Trust for Public Land, and the communities and public supporting this acquisition.”

“Last year we were thrilled to bring the Lake into the public domain, and to connect nearly 400 acres to the Green Mountain National Forest. This smaller phase of the project, however, has been just as, if not more, exciting,” explained John Norton, former chair of the Warren Selectboard. “The 140 acres are not the only thing that has been protected by this Forest Service purchase. Rather, the Lake’s water quality has been ensured, scenic views of the Lake and surrounding land have been preserved, the public can continue to recreate on the acreage, and wildlife can enjoy and thrive in an enhanced corridor of protected, forested land.”

A mix of forestland, wetlands, and open meadow, the Prickley Mountain property provides scenic views of Blueberry Lake, and lies adjacent to the Roxbury State Forest and near to land already owned by the Green Mountain National Forest. It also includes important habitat for songbirds, black bear, and other wildlife. The effort to protect the property was supported by a broad coalition, including the Town of Warren, Green Mountain National Forest, the Vermont Congressional Delegation, the Trust for Public Land, the Mad River Watershed Conservation Partnership, and area residents.

The Trust for Public Land was founded in 1972 to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since then, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including approximately 25,000 acres in Vermont. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. The 383,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest stretches over nearly two-thirds of the length of Vermont and includes a diversity of landscapes ranging from the rugged, exposed heights of Mount Abraham to the quiet, secluded hollows of Lye Brook Wilderness. The Forest has a wide range of recreational opportunities: 962 miles of hiking trails, six wilderness areas, White Rocks National Recreation Area, seven developed campgrounds and primitive camping, eight picnic areas, berry picking, fishing, hunting, and winter sports including skiing, snow shoeing, dog-sledding, and snowmobiling.