Two Readsboro Properties Added to Green Mountain National Forest

Two Readsboro properties have been added to the Green Mountain National Forest protecting 1.4 miles of the Deerfield River, The Trust for Public Land and the United States Forest Service announced today. Purchase of the 680 acres of land will link three previously unconnected parcels in the Green Mountain National Forest, conserve significant wetlands and wildlife habitat, offer new public access for recreation, and continue sustainable forest management.

The United States Forest Service (USFS) has long sought conservation of the properties to meet strategic goals for the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF). In 2009, the Vermont office of The Trust for Public Land (TPL) negotiated purchase agreements for the properties with two landowners, Andrew Grimes of Reading, Mass., and John Mutrie of Wellesley, Mass. The Grimes property in the north is 380 acres and includes frontage along the west branch of the Deerfield River. The southern Mutrie property is 300 acres and will preserve a significant bear habitat corridor. TPL has conveyed the purchased lands to the USFS.

“We are overjoyed to conserve these properties for the Green Mountain National Forest,” said Rodger Krussman, TPL’s Vermont state director. “This was a rare and remarkable opportunity to link three unconnected pieces of the National Forest, protect Deerfield River water quality and wildlife habitat, increase public access to the Green Mountains, and sustain timber management in the area.”

The properties include nearly 100 acres of wetlands, two miles of streams, and beech, birch, maple, and conifer stands, and are habitat for black bear, deer, moose, turkey, beaver, and migratory waterfowl, among other species. The GMNF plans to encourage recreation including hunting, hiking the expanded trail network, skiing, and snowmobiling on designated trails.

“This acquisition will allow the public to access and enjoy an additional 680 acres of National Forest system lands,” said Colleen Madrid, Forest Supervisor for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests. “By conserving open space, providing watershed protection and outdoor recreation, this acquisition meets our local and national conservation goals. This is yet another example of how our partners and the land acquisition program work in tandem to support conservation efforts that will be enjoyed by Vermonters and visitors for generations to come.”

Funding for the purchase of the two properties was from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch supported the use of LWCF funds for the purchase. LWCF is the federal government’s main source of funding for protecting public land. It is funded not by taxpayer dollars but by royalties paid by energy companies in exchange for oil and gas extraction from federal offshore leases.

Sen. Leahy said, “This is a great example of why the Land and Water Conservation Fund was created and has been used so effectively in Vermont as an vital tool for conserving our important forest resources and preventing the subdivision that has cut off public access in many other areas of the state. I applaud The Trust for Public Land and all the partners that have worked on this project over the years for their dedication to this project and to the Green Mountain National Forest.”

Sen. Sanders said, “As a strong supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, I am pleased that it will provide funding for this addition to the Green Mountain National Forest. This effort will protect wildlife habitat and offer new recreation opportunities for visitors to the forest. Land conservation provides a long-term legacy for our children and grandchildren and ensures that they will have the opportunity to continue to enjoy the outdoors.”

Congressman Welch said, “Vermonters take great pride in our rural landscape. Today’s news will ensure the preservation of these two properties, allowing Vermonters to enjoy all they have to offer for generations to come. I applaud all parties for their efforts.”

Protection of watershed lands and frontage along the Deerfield River will support native and stocked trout fisheries, and help maintain sufficient riparian corridors. The Deerfield is among the coldest and cleanest rivers in the region, and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture has identified this intact sub-watershed as the highest priority for protection. The river is also a popular destination for kayaking, fishing, and wildlife observation.

Voters at a town meeting in March 2010 voted to support the acquisitions.

“We thank the Town of Readsboro for supporting these conservation purchases,” added Krussman.

TPL is a national, nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places. Since 1972, TPL has completed 4,500 projects in 47 states, protecting more than 3 million acres, including more than 50,000 acres throughout Vermont. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.