7,500 Acres for Green Mountain National Forest (VT)

Pittsfield, Chittenden, and Killington, Vermont: Today, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the U.S. Forest Service announced the addition of 7,500 acres to the Green Mountain National Forest. The property consists of two adjacent parcels along the Chittenden/Pittsfield border, both of which abut the Green Mountain National Forest. The majority of the property, some 6,500 acres, is located in Chittenden, with roughly 900 acres in Pittsfield, and just over 100 acres in Killington. Owned for many years by the Stanley Tool Company, the property once supplied timber for the manufacture of handles for hammers, axes, and other hand tools. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy and the Vermont Congressional delegation, Congress appropriated roughly $3.3 million last year for this purchase from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“The sale of these lands to the Green Mountain National Forest is a great example of local communities, the Forest Service, landowners interested in both selling and conserving their land, and nonprofit organizations such as the Trust for Public Land working together to address a broad array of interests and concerns,” said Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy for several years has secured land acquisition funding to enable the Green Mountain National Forest to act on a backlog of land purchase offers.

“The Stanley acquisition is a terrific example of the hard work and cooperation that makes it possible to preserve our precious open space in the Green Mountains. As a long-time supporter of the Green Mountain National Forest, I am pleased to see this land protected for future generations,” said Senator Jim Jeffords.

“Protecting our environment should be one of our top priorities and today’s expansion of the Green Mountain Forest is a reflection of that,” said Congressman Bernie Sanders. “I applaud everyone who worked to achieve this goal of preserving thousands of acres of open space for Vermont.”

“Conserving this outstanding property will preserve critical habitat for black bear and other wildlife, protect six peaks—including the 2,885-foot Darling Needle, and maintain public access to popular local trails,” said Julie Iffland, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “The Trust for Public Land is grateful to the Congressional delegation and the towns of Chittenden, Pittsfield, and Killington for their support of this landmark project.”

“The addition of these key properties to the Green Mountain National Forest will enhance public benefits and allow the Forest Service to manage a contiguous block of land,” said Tammy Malone, acting forest supervisor for the Green Mountain National Forest. “This will enable greater public access and allow for increased management opportunities including travel corridors and large blocks of wildlife habitat, and working with our partners on a watershed assessment. 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.”

“When this project was initially proposed, the Chittenden Board of Selectman was skeptical that adding more land to the Green Mountain National Forest was in the best interest of our community. However, the Forest Service and the Trust for Public Land staff worked hard to address our concerns, including a guarantee of public access to specific recreational trails on the property,” remarked Chittenden Selectman Donaleen Farwell. “We ended up with the best possible outcome for the town, and are pleased that the property will be protected for public enjoyment and wildlife habitat.” As part of the project, the town of Chittenden will receive an easement guaranteeing public access for recreation to portions of the property.

The 375,000-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: 600 miles of hiking trails, six wilderness areas, White Rocks National Recreation Area, seven developed campgrounds and primitive camping, 8 picnic areas, berry picking, fishing, hunting, and winter sports including skiing, snow shoeing, dog-sledding, and snowmobiling. These opportunities can be viewed on the Internet at www.fs.fed.us/r9/gmfl.

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 1.2 million acres nationwide, including nearly 25,000 acres in Vermont. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, visit www.tpl.org