Campaign Launched to Save VT Farmhouse

WARREN, Vermont, 8/1/2003 – The Blueberry Lake Advisory Committee, the Trust for Public Land, and the Vermont Land Trust announced a fundraising campaign today to restore and permanently protect the entire shoreline of Blueberry Lake by removing an existing farmhouse located on the North side of the lake off Gove Road. The Vermont Land Trust has offered to match donations dollar for dollar up to $50,000 through a lead matching grant to the campaign, which seeks to raise just over $100,000 from private supporters by December 31, 2003.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, acquired the farmhouse when it purchased just over 520 acres of land surrounding Blueberry Lake in January of 2001. Over the past two years, roughly 510 of these acres have been acquired by the U.S. Forest Service as additions to the Green Mountain National Forest, thanks to the strong support of Senator Patrick Leahy and the entire Vermont congressional delegation. The two remaining lakefront parcels, totaling eight acres, will be acquired by the Forest Service after the house has been removed.

“The Trust for Public Land is excited to be moving forward with the final phase of the Blueberry Lake conservation effort. Working together with the Blueberry Lake Advisory Committee and the Vermont Land Trust, we are close to reaching our goals of protecting the lake, restoring its shore, and making it available for public enjoyment,” said Julie Iffland, senior project manager for the Trust for Public Land.

Kinny Connell points to the strategic importance of this parcel for public access to Blueberry Lake: “This parcel is at the gateway to the most well-used access on the lake. This final phase of the Blueberry Lake project will allow this gateway to be restored to a natural condition and put into public ownership. We hope that everyone who uses and enjoys Blueberry Lake will contribute generously to making this a reality.”

Kenny Blair, chair of the Warren Board of Selectmen, said, “I am happy that the process of conserving this sensitive resource is nearly completed, especially these last lakeshore lots, which are so integral to the whole project.”

“It is wonderful to see this piece of the project fall into place,” said Priscilla Robinson, a Warren resident and active member of the Blueberry Lake Advisory Committee. “These two parcels are an integral part of the area, and moving them into the hands of the public is the right thing to do. Now, with the help of the U.S. Forest Service, we can be assured that this place will be saved in a natural state for our children and grandchildren. Thanks should go to Steve Kimball of the Forest Service, the Town of Warren, the Blueberry Lake Committee, and TPL, who worked incredibly hard to make this happen.”

The removal of the house was recommended by the Blueberry Lake Advisory Committee in order to enhance the lake’s public accessibility and pristine feel. Architectural Salvage of Montpelier has been engaged to dismantle the house, recycle and reuse all salvageable material, and resell the 25′ x 50′ frame. Many salvage and house movers have looked at the project and all have recommended taking down the house and reusing the component parts rather than moving it whole.

Donations to the campaign are fully tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to the “Blueberry Lake Fund” and sent to The Trust for Public Land, 3 Shipman Place, Montpelier, VT 05602 or to the Vermont Land Trust, 8 Bailey Avenue, Montpelier, VT 05602. For more information, contact Julie Iffland at (802) 223-1373 x12 or Alex Maclay at (802) 496-5208.

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. In 2002, the Forest Service acquired an additional 140 acres on Prickley Mountain overlooking the lake.

The protection of the final eight acres will complete the protection of the lake’s shorefront. A mix of forestland, wetlands, and open meadow, the Blueberry Lake area provides scenic vistas, outstanding opportunities for recreation, and important habitat for songbirds, black bear, and other wildlife.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 45 states, including nearly 30,000 acres in Vermont. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, please contact TPL’s Montpelier office at (802) 223-1373.