The Trust For Public Land, Velco & GMP Powering Final Fundraising Drive For Jim Jeffords State Forest
The Trust for Public Land announced today that after a generous $40,000 challenge grant by Green Mountain Power and VELCO, only $45,000 remains to be raised to permanently protect the proposed Jim Jeffords State Forest. The money would conclude a two-year effort to secure the $1.14 million needed to acquire and conserve 1,346 acres of important forestland in Mendon and Shrewsbury, Vermont. The forest will be named the Jim Jeffords State Forest in honor of the late U. S. Senator Jim Jeffords, a longtime Shrewsbury resident and committed forestland conservation advocate.
Rodger Krussman, The Trust for Public Land’s state director for Vermont and New Hampshire, said, “We are very pleased to partner with Green Mountain Power and VELCO on this important conservation project which honors the late Senator Jeffords. We hope to raise the final matching funds needed in the next two months to protect this special place for families and visitors to enjoy long into the future.”
The new Jim Jeffords State Forest will serve as a crucial link between Coolidge State Forest and Aitken State Forest, resulting in an 188,000-acre block of conserved land. In addition to recreation for Vermonters and visitors, black bears use the property to move between Aitken State Forest-a key fall feeding area-east to Parker’s Gore and the Green Mountain Bear Corridor. Conservation of this land will also protect wetlands and riparian areas along Mendon Brook and the Cold River. This additional protection will enhance flood resiliency upstream of Rutland, which was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. If the nearly complete conservation outcome fails, all of these benefits could be lost.
“Green Mountain Power is committed to the conservation of Vermont’s most precious asset: our land, and we are thrilled to make this challenge gift available to help The Trust for Public Land create the Jim Jeffords State Forest,” said Mary Powell, President & CEO of Green Mountain Power. “We encourage others who care about land conservation and wildlife protection to give to this worthy cause.”
“VELCO was created in 1956 to connect Vermont to clean hydropower,” said Tom Dunn, VELCO President and CEO. “I can think of no better way to kick off our 60th anniversary of providing reliable service in harmony with Vermont’s working landscape than to help conserve habitat and better protect our hometown of Rutland by connecting two forests in a manner that honors Jim Jeffords. Vermonters love a challenge and we look forward to welcoming those who will join with us, GMP and The Trust for Public Land to create the Jim Jeffords State Forest.
Once acquired, the property will be owned and managed by the State of Vermont with a conservation easement held by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. The property will be managed to protect wildlife habitat, for recreational uses including hunting and snowmobiling, and to increase flood resiliency.
The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with the State of Vermont, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, the Green Mountain Club, and the communities of Mendon and Shrewsbury to purchase and conserve the property. To date, the partners have commitments from public and private sources in excess of $1,092,000. The remaining $45,000 needs to be raised privately. For more information visit: https://www.tpl.org/our-work/jim-jeffords-state-forest.