On April 19, 2023

Green Mountain National Forest grows by nearly 2,800-acre, includes crucial trail crossroads

Rolston Rest connects more than 140,000 acres of protected land

CHITTENDEN—Trust for Public Land (TPL) has transferred Rolston Rest, the largest private unprotected inholding remaining in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest, to the U.S. Forest Service for permanent protection. Adding the property to the Green Mountain National Forest will shield the land from the threat of development and forever guarantee public access, according to a news release March 29 from the TPL.

Encompassing 2,744 acres of strategic forest habitat, nationally significant hiking trails, and important aquatic resources, the Rolston Rest property serves as the viewshed for the nearby iconic Appalachian National Scenic Trail and has long been a popular destination for hikers, hunters, and skiers.

“Rolston Rest is poised to become an integral part of Vermont’s outdoors — an iconic trail crossroads with awe inspiring views and thousands of acres of previously off-limits Green Mountain backcountry. Its permanent protection will not only improve climate resiliency by keeping mountainous forestland intact, but it is also a critical puzzle piece in the envisioned statewide Velomont Trail and Huts system,” said Shelby Semmes, vice president of the New England Region for Trust for Public Land. “We’re thrilled to be part of giving Vermonters and visitors alike expanded access to the Green Mountain National Forest to explore, recreate, and rejuvenate.”

The Green Mountain National Forest will assume management responsibility for the property upon transfer from TPL. “We are pleased to have such an important land acquisition being added to the Green Mountain National Forest,” stated John Sinclair, forest supervisor of the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests. “Completing a large acquisition such as this will not only add to the continuity of management but enhance the restoration and reliance of the landscape through the continued conservation of public lands.”

The future vision for the property also includes partnering with Vermont Huts Association to build a year-round cabin at South Pond, at a previously disturbed site where a residence was destroyed by an arsonist in 2018. Part of a four-season hut-to-hut network linking rural communities across the state, the proposed hut will create a new point of access to the outdoors for generations to come.

“Our mission is to foster a deeper appreciation of our natural environment and strengthen Vermont’s communities by providing enriching and immersive outdoor experiences for all,” said RJ Thompson, executive director of Vermont Huts Association. “Trust for Public Land’s tireless efforts to protect the Rolston Rest parcel — and many others across the state — create the foundation for enduring recreational assets to take shape so users of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds have an opportunity to explore and, hopefully, become stewards of the Green Mountains.”

The property hosts three miles of the Long Trail, two miles of the Catamount Trail, and is proposed to include a section of the new, multi-use Velomont Trail that one day will connect mountain bike networks and communities along the length of Vermont. It also supports habitat for bobcat, moose, otter, and northern long-eared bat.

This project is a prime example of Trust for Public Land’s Green Mountain Program. In partnership with the Green Mountain Club, the Green Mountain National Forest, the Catamount Trail Association, the state of Vermont, and other community partners, Trust for Public Land has been working for 30 years to conserve land that improves quality of life in Vermont by protecting public recreational access, climate resiliency, wildlife habitat, and water resources. To date, Trust for Public Land has protected more than 52,500 acres in the Green Mountains, with a goal to conserve an additional 20,000 acres in the next decade, particularly along the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail.

The Vermont congressional delegation has been fully supportive of this effort, including former Sen. Patrick Leahy who has been a tireless advocate for Vermont’s public lands.

Protection of the property was initially funded by the Trust for Public Land, which bought the property in December 2017, using nearly $3.5 million in public funds and $1.6 million in private funds to make the project happen.

This project was funded by the Land & Water Conservation Fund, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Appalachian Trail Conservancy-Wild East Action Fund, the Conine Family Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, Larsen Fund, Lintilhac Foundation, Lookout Foundation, Oakland Foundation, the Conservation Alliance, The Penates Foundation, the Open Space Institute’s Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund through support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, an anonymous foundation, family foundations and dozens of private donors.

Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. For more info, visit: tpl.org.

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