Blueberry Lake (VT) Land Acquired
Warren, Vermont, 1/23/01: Today, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit conservation organization, announced its purchase of 516 acres around Blueberry Lake in Warren. The purchase marks a milestone in the multi-year effort to add this land to the Green Mountain National Forest.
Whitney Hatch, New England regional director for the Trust for Public Land, explained, “By purchasing this land and holding it off the market, we are giving the Forest Service the time they need to prepare for the addition of this land to the National Forest. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy, Congress appropriated just over $1 million last year for this project from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This funding will enable TPL to transfer 368 acres on Blueberry Lake to the National Forest this spring. This is a great first step but we still have a long way to go to complete the project. We will be seeking additional funding to protect the remaining land next year, as well as private donations to support our work on the project.”
“I am very pleased that I was able to help secure the funding necessary for the inclusion of Blueberry Lake in the Green Mountain National Forest for public use. This will make a great addition to the Forest,” said Senator Leahy, who is a member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the Forest Service. Support for the project was also provided by Senator Jim Jeffords and Congressman Bernie Sanders.
Paul Brewster, Supervisor of the Green Mountain National Forest noted, “Blueberry Lake will be an excellent addition to the Green Mountain National Forest because it contains outstanding wetland habitat and provides a green link between the main body of the National Forest and the Roxbury State Forest. The Forest Service is delighted that TPL has purchased the property to protect it temporarily until it can be added to the National Forest, and we are looking forward to working with the Town of Warren’s Conservation Committee to carefully plan future public use of these lands.”
The Blueberry Lake property is named for a scenic pond formed by an earthen dam on Mills Brook. The property includes a 368-acre parcel that includes almost the entire shoreline of Blueberry Lake, an 8-acre house lot, and a 140-acre parcel on Prickly Mountain, which is located just under a mile away overlooking the lake.
Last August, as part of the Blueberry Lake project, the Warren Selectboard voted to acquire the dam and four abutting acres, and they took ownership of the property at the beginning of last week. “I am very pleased that this entire property will soon become public land,” said John Norton, chairman of the Warren Selectboard. “For over 15 years, the Town of Warren has been trying to acquire the lake as a public resource for low-impact recreation. Now, thanks to the participation of TPL, not only will the lake be available to the public, but the surrounding forestland will be protected, as well.”
A mix of forestland, wetlands, and open meadow, the Blueberry Lake property lies adjacent to land 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.
“We are absolutely thrilled to see this project moving forward,” said Julie Beth Hoover, who worked closely with the town on this project in her former position as director of the Mad River Valley Planning District. “This property will be an asset to the town and the whole region.”
Private contributions will be critical in allowing the project to move forward. Over the next several months, TPL will be working to raise private funds to cover legal, engineering, and consulting costs associated with the project.
A lead $40,000 contribution to the project has been provided by the local 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. “We got involved with the project because we felt the permanent protection of the lake and the surrounding lands was a significant step toward preserving a probable wildlife habitat corridor across the valley, as well as insuring public access to an important recreation resource,” said Tara Hamilton, coordinator of the Partnership.
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 8,000 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.