JIM JEFFORDS STATE FOREST
For Immediate Release
April 11, 2016
Matthew Shaffer, The Trust for Public Land, 415-495-4014, [email protected]
Note: Maps and photos available
New Jim Jeffords State Forest Created in Shrewsbury and Mendon
Essential wildlife corridor will connect Aitken State Forest to Coolidge State Forest and provide permanent access for hikers, skiers, hunters, and snowmobilers of Rutland County
RUTLAND, VT. — The new Jim Jeffords State Forest is now open to the public, The Trust for Public Land and State of Vermont announced today. The Trust for Public Land protected 1,346 acres in Mendon and Shrewsbury to create the new state forest, and less than a mile from the Long Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Catamount Trail, this northern hardwood forest will provide outdoor recreationists opportunities to hike, cross-country ski, snowmobile, fish, and hunt.
“Vermont’s newest state forest secures permanent access for the hikers, skiers, hunters and snowmobilers of Rutland County, and enhances flood resiliency along the North Branch of the Cold River,” said Kate Wanner, project manager at The Trust for Public Land. “Jim Jeffords State Forest would not have been possible without deep support from the Shrewsbury & Mendon communities, hard work by the dedicated staff at the Department of Forest, Parks & Recreation, and generosity and patience on part of the landowners.”
The land is an essential wildlife corridor between Coolidge and Aitken State Forests, offering refuge to animals including black bear, moose, fisher, and bobcat that range along the spine of the Green Mountains. Protecting this land will also create more flood resiliency upstream of Rutland and conserve two miles along the Cold River and other streams providing native brook trout habitat.
The State of Vermont will manage the new state forest for recreation, wildlife habitat protection, sustainable timber harvesting, and water quality protection. A conservation easement on the property is held by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
“I am extremely proud to name Vermont’s newest state forest in honor of Senator Jim Jeffords,” said Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder. “This property has long been a high priority for conservation and the Department looks forward to working closely with area towns, partners, and interested parties in managing this fantastic addition to the State’s conservation holdings.”
Senator Patrick Leahy said, “I know that nothing delighted Jim more than to get outdoors, on his own, into the woods around his home in Shrewsbury, whether on snowshoes, or with a chainsaw to bring home some firewood. To name the Jim Jeffords State Forest in Shrewsbury is a perfect way to honor him, and I know that Jim would be so very proud.”
A portion of the project funding came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). A leading member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy takes the lead each year to secure funding for LWCF grants.
“Jim Jeffords left behind a strong legacy of promoting environmental conservation and protecting forests and public lands across the country,” remarked Senator Bernie Sanders. “Naming the state forest for him in his hometown of Shrewsbury, which he loved so much, is a fitting tribute to that legacy. I am truly honored to serve in Jim’s seat on the Senate environment committee.”
“Vermonters are breathing cleaner air and drinking cleaner water today because of Senator Jeffords’ fierce advocacy for the environment and his commitment to proper stewardship of the land,” said U.S. Congressman Peter Welch. “There’s no doubt he would be proud to see Vermonters coming together in such a strong public-private partnership to preserve our state’s natural areas and diverse wildlife for the next generation.”
The acquisition was made possible by a combination of public and private funding: $517,200 grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, $469,000 of bear corridor mitigation funds, $50,000 of federal funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as generous private grants from Green Mountain Power, VELCO, Fields Pond Foundation, S&C Harvest Foundation, Ververka Family Foundation, Vermont Land Trust through the Joan Sibley Estate, and 51 individual donors. Nearly $700,000 of land value was generously donated by the landowners, Lesley Heathcote and Nick and Deborah Holland.
VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig commented, “We are pleased to support the conservation of this significant resource. It acknowledges Senator Jeffords’ great legacy for our state and the community he loved so much. The newest acquisition enhances previous VHCB investments in nearby state lands, resulting in a relatively unfragmented forestland block of approximately 21,000 acres.”
The public will be invited to a ribbon-cutting and celebration of the new state forest in early summer.
About the Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.
JULY 5, 2016
DEDICATION OF JIM JEFFORDS STATE FOREST
BROWN BRIDGE NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK