The National Park Service (NPS) and The Conservation Fund recently announced the protection of a large tract of land next to the Killington Section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail near the town of Barnard, Vt.
The land consists of 631 acres in an undeveloped forest known as Chateauguay-No Town (CNT). The goal is to create a protective border from local development. This development buffer will follow the Appalachian National Scenic Trail for approximately one mile. Additionally, the extra land will help protect the wetland habitat in the town of Barnard.
"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,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in a Conservation Fund press release.
The property consists of a complex network of wetlands. Many beaver ponds lay throughout the land, which serve as feeding habitat for various local and migratory animals including moose, black bears, and birds.
The lands contain several water systems, which are centrally located in the watershed divide of the Ottauquecee and White rivers in the Connecticut River basin. The lands include several tributaries like Locust Creek, which has a robust trout fish population.
The National Scenic Trail in Vermont joins the historic Long Trail in the Green Mountain National Forest. In central Vermont the trail splits and heads east through the Green Mountains heading toward the New Hampshire border. Approximately 1,500 hikers traverse this trail each year.
“Vermonters take great pride in our forests and rural landscape. 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,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) in a Conservation Fund press release.
The property was transferred to the NPS in March following its purchase by The Conservation Fund last year. The land will serve the dual function of connecting the Les Newell Wildlife Management Area property, which is owned by the state, with many privately owned conservation lands totaling more than 9,000 acres of protected area.
The land will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service Green Mountain National Forest and will be open to the public for recreational use such as hiking, hunting, fishing, and skiing.
Federal moneys used to acquire the property came from the 2010 federal budget under the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The 2012 fiscal budget as outlined by President Obama includes plans to complete the final phase of the project. The final phase includes acquisition of 375 acres of property in the town of Bridgewater near Barnard. However, the budget request is pending congressional approval.
“Vermonters should be proud of our efforts to conserve land and protect our natural resources for future generations. 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,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a Conservation Fund press release.