631-Acre Acquisition Widens Appalachian Trail Corridor and Protects Vital Wildlife Habitat in Central Vermont

March 29, 2011

First Of Two-Phase Effort To Protect More Than 1,000 Acres Along National Scenic Trail

Barnard, Vt. — Thanks to the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy in securing federal funding for Vermont, the National Park Service (NPS) and The Conservation Fund announced the permanent protection of a 631-acre property adjacent to the Killington Section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Vermont. Nestled in heart of a large undeveloped forested area known as Chateauguay-No Town (CNT), the acquired tract will create a protective buffer against development along a one mile stretch of the Trail and also protect vital wetland habitat in the town of Barnard, on the Bridgewater town line.

Purchased by The Conservation Fund in December 2010 and transferred to the NPS last week, the property will connect state-owned Les Newell Wildlife Management Area with several privately-owned conservation lands to create a core area of protected lands encompassing more than 9,000 acres. Bisected by the seasonal Chateauguay Road, the property will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service Green Mountain National Forest. The lands will be open to public recreation for hiking, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing and other back-country uses.

In 2009, Senator Leahy secured $625,000 in funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior Appropriations bill to enable the NPS to acquire the property. Senator Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senator Patrick Leahy said: “I am really pleased to see this project completed. These are superb conservation lands by any measure, and all the more because of their proximity to the Appalachian Trail.”

“Vermonters should be proud of our efforts to conserve land and protect our natural resources for future generations,” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “This project and others funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund provide invaluable opportunities for wildlife preservation as well as public recreation activities such as hiking and fishing. I will work to ensure we continue supporting the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

“Vermonters take great pride in our forests and rural landscape,” said Representative Peter Welch. “This agreement preserves this important landscape for generations to come. I applaud all parties for their efforts to preserve this pristine corner of Vermont’s landscape.”

The LWCF program enables federal and state agencies to acquire lands that feature important historic, natural, scenic and economic benefits for public use and enjoyment. The LWCF receives significant revenue from the development of federally-owned offshore oil and gas rights. The president’s fiscal year 2012 budget request includes funding to complete the second and final phase of the project, a 375-acre property in the Town of Bridgewater. The budget request is currently pending before Congress. The Conservation Fund and the conservation community strongly support President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative that proposes full funding for the LWCF in Fiscal Year 2012.

“The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is an extraordinary resource for all Americans,” said Donald T. King, Realty Officer for the NPS National Trails Land Resources Program. “Its pathway through Vermont is made more special by the conservation of this landscape. The Chateauguay is an area well loved by local citizens, who also realized the benefit to the national resource and acted to protect it.”

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail winds northward from Georgia to Maine for 2137 miles. In Vermont it joins the historic Long Trail as it follows the ridgelines through the Green Mountain National Forest. In the central part of the state, the Appalachian Trail leaves the National Forest, separates from the historic Long Trail at Killington and bears east in a narrow corridor through the Green Mountains and the CNT toward Woodstock and the New Hampshire border. An estimated 1,500 hikers currently use this section of the Appalachian Trail each year, including approximately 500 thru-hikers.

Rich in natural resources, the property features a high value wetland complex, marked with a string of beaver ponds, that serves as a key feeding habitat for migratory birds, black bears and other free-ranging species like moose. The parcel is located in the watershed divide of the Ottauquecee and White , within the Connecticut River basin, and contains the headwaters of several tributaries including Locust Creek, a Vermont Class A stream with a pristine trout fishery.

The CNT Conservation Project, a cooperative effort of the Towns of Barnard, Bridgewater, Stockbridge and Killington, was formed in 1997 to address and promote conservation in the 55,000 acre area of undeveloped land in the high elevations of the Green Mountains. A total of 16,200 acres have been conserved within the project area to date.

“As chairman of the Barnard Conservation Commission (BCC), I could not be happier to hear that 631 acres of forestland bordering the Appalachian Trail has been transferred to the National Park Service as part of the Trail corridor in Barnard,” said Tom Platner. “When the Town established the BCC, we did a survey of what we considered priority wildlife habitat to conserve, and this parcel was one of the highest rated on the list.”

This project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of many local citizens, the Chateauguay-No Town Conservation Committee, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC), the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

“We are proud to learn about this latest success in our regional conservation efforts,” said Peter Gregory, Executive Director, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission. “Through the hard work of many dedicated volunteers, professionals and owners of some of the most pristine sections of our region, we have added a critical piece in the long-term protection of wildlife and recreation resources. TRORC is pleased to have been part of this process.”

“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy sends our appreciation to The Conservation Fund, Chateauguay-No Town Conservation Committee, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife for working collaboratively on this project,” said says Hawk Metheny New England Regional Director with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “We are pleased to see this land come into public ownership and to add further protection to this remote section of the Appalachian Trail. It is particularly satisfying to see such a rich diversity of natural resources be conserved, which add significant scenic and ecological value to this section of the Trail”

“This is part of an ongoing, collaborative effort involving local citizens and other partners to keep this important area conserved and open for public use,” said Nancy Bell, Vermont Representative for The Conservation Fund. “The legacy of Vermont lands open for hiking, skiing, hunting and fishing will continue in the Chateauguay—a very, very special place!”

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.

Press Release Contacts

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org

Nancy Bell, (802) 492-3368, nancy_bell@vermontel.net

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