On February 15, 2017

Select Board backs expansion of GMNF

By Evan Johnson

KILLINGTON—At its Feb. 7 meeting, the Killington Select Board unanimously approved a measure to sell a 229-acre parcel of forest to the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF).
Kate Wanner, a project manager for the Trust for Public Land (TPL), and Chris Mattrick, district manager for the Rochester Ranger District, presented a plan at the meeting that would purchase three parcels of property in Chittenden, Mendon and Killington.
The plan centers on a property known as Rolston Rest after the restored Long Trail shelter. It consists of 2,792 acres with 2,522, or 90 percent of that acreage, located in Chittenden. The parcels contain three miles of the Long Trail, two miles of the Catamount Trail and a four-season cabin above South Pond.
A 229-acre parcel in Killington and another 509-acre parcel in Mendon were bought by the state in 2003 in an effort to protect the Long Trail.
Wanner said adding the property to the national forest could grow recreation opportunities in the future. As the Vermont Mountain Bike Association explores expanding mountain bike networks around the state, the property could link existing trail networks. The cabin would be available to travelers throughout the year and would be managed by the Green Mountain Club.
Recently the land was posted, meaning no trespassing is permitted. “One thing we would really like to see is reopening public access for hiking, hunting and recreation,” Wanner said.
To cover the costs associated with the purchase, TPL must raise private funds privately, including winning a grant from the Lintilhac Foundation. Funds for GMNF’s acquisition would come from the federal Bureau of Land Management’s Land & Water Conservation Fund for FY18.
TPL has partnered successfully with public lands in the past, most recently the Jim Jeffords State Forest in Mendon and Shrewsbury.
In Chittenden, the measure will go before the residents in a separate ballot vote after Town Meeting Day. Visit the town website for details and dates.

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