Blueberry Lake Added to National Forest (VT)
Warren, Vermont, 9/28/01: The U.S. Forest Service acquired approximately 370 acres, including almost the entire shoreline of Blueberry Lake, today 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 last January to protect it from development until it could be added to the National Forest.
Thanks to the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy, Congress appropriated $1.085 million last year for this acquisition from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. “I join all Vermonters in welcoming the addition of Blueberry Lake to our Green Mountain National Forest,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). “I applaud those in Warren and throughout Vermont who worked so hard with us to make this possible.” Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and also of the panel’s Interior Subcommittee, which oversees the U.S. Forest Service budget.
“This land will make a great addition to the National Forest,” said Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT). “I will continue to work with Senator Leahy to enhance the Green Mountain National Forest.”
“The protection of Blueberry Lake is good for the people of Vermont. This will improve access to Blueberry Lake, and I support this addition to the forest,” said Representative Bernard Sanders (I-VT).
Whitney Hatch, New England regional director for the Trust for Public Land, explained, “By purchasing this land last January and holding it off the market, we were able to stave off potential development and give the Forest Service time to add the land to the National Forest. Now this extraordinary place will be protected forever for public use and enjoyment.” TPL is currently holding another 140 acres on Prickly Mountain in Warren that it hopes to add to the National Forest early next year.
“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 Paul Brewster, forest supervisor. “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, Warren Conservation Committee, and the communities and public supporting this acquisition.”
“We are very happy that this unique and spectacular landscape will become part of the Green Mountain National Forest,” said John Norton, chairman of the Warren Selectboard. “The Town of Warren has worked for many years to make Blueberry Lake available to the public for low-impact recreation and habitat protection. The value of this property was very apparent over the summer, when for the first time in several years it was once again accessible to the public. I took my family there several times to canoe and swim, and each time there were several families including all generations enjoying the lake. We look forward to working with the Forest Service to implement the management plan that was proposed this spring.”
Last year, the Town of Warren acquired four acres on Blueberry Lake along with the earthen dam on Mills Brook that forms the lake. Additional local support for the project was provided by the Mad River Watershed Conservation Partnership. A new collaboration among the Friends of the Mad River, the Vermont Land Trust, and the Mad River Valley Planning District, the Partnership was formed to increase local land conservation efforts.
“Blueberry Lake and the land surrounding it is a very special place. In permanently protecting this area the Trust for Public Land, Green Mountain National Forest, and Town of Warren have preserved a haven for wildlife as well as a tremendous recreation resource that people will be able to enjoy for many generations to come. The lake and the nearby wetlands are natural assets that aren’t common here in the Valley, so it’s a critical natural area to protect—and it’s also a great place for people to get in close contact with nature. That is why the Mad River Watershed Conservation Partnership wanted to help make this project happen,” said Tara Hamilton of the Conservation Partnership.
A mix of forestland, wetlands, and open meadow, the Blueberry Lake property lies adjacent to land already owned by the Green Mountain National Forest and provides outstanding opportunities for recreation—including swimming, fishing, hiking, ice skating and cross-country skiing. It also includes important habitat for songbirds, black bear, and other wildlife.
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 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, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, visit www.tpl.org.
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. These opportunities can be viewed on the Internet at:http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/gmfl.