Press: Stowe Land Trust Launches Community Campaign to Protect Brownsville Forest

Photo by Steven Mermelstein

Stowe Land Trust is asking the Stowe community to help raise $75,000 toward the protection of Brownsville Forest during the months of May and June. At 750 acres, Brownsville Forest is the last, large, undeveloped parcel of forestland to protect in the town of Stowe.

Brownsville Forest was listed for sale in August 2018 for $9.95 million and is currently at risk for development. The parcel is part of the Worcester Range: one of Vermont’s most wild and least protected mountain ranges. The land contains critical forest, wetland and open habitat for local wildlife. Until the property was posted several years ago, neighbors and community members long used and appreciated access to the land for hiking, hunting, cross country skiing and more.

Stowe Land Trust has a contract to purchase and protect Brownsville Forest at the end of July 2019 if it can raise $5.75 million by that time. If successful, the land trust plans to transfer ownership to the State of Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation who will manage the land as a cohesive unit with the surrounding C.C. Putnam State Forest. The land will remain undeveloped and be open to the public for non-motorized recreation subject to a management plan prepared with public input. Stowe Land Trust will maintain a conservation easement and perpetual guardianship of the property.

Stowe Land Trust received a $5 million anonymous donation toward the project through the Vermont Community Foundation earlier this year. Since then, the Land Trust has made significant progress toward raising the remaining $750,000 with the help of a local fundraising committee.

According to the Land Trust’s executive director, Kristen Sharpless, “We have had a fantastic initial response from a wide range of people with a variety of interests who all want to help protect Brownsville Forest. Now we’re asking the Stowe area community to chip in $75,000 toward this exciting conservation effort and help ensure that it is a success.”

In addition to raising the $75,000, the Land Trust’s goal for the community campaign is broad participation.

“Brownsville Forest is such an important conservation project for our community, that it would be great to have as many people participate as possible,” says Chess Brownell, a Land Trust board member and co-chair of the fundraising committee. “Many of those who know the property are thrilled that it will be public land and those who have yet to experience the beauty and wild character of this forest, will likely see the merits of this project."

If the Land Trust can secure 750 donations by July, a group of land trust supporters have committed to donate an additional $75,000 toward the effort, which will double the financial impact of the community campaign.

“Whether it is $1, $100 or $1,000, all contributions are needed and important,” says Brownell. “We hope that everyone will do what they can to help Stowe Land Trust continue its work to conserve our environment and our community’s shared values.”

The Land Trust will be offering a number of opportunities for people to get out on the land this spring. For free outings and events, visit our Events & Outings webpage. The property is still in private ownership and is currently posted, so please respect landowner wishes. Members of the public are welcome to experience Brownsville Forest via the Class IV Roads that pass through the property. A map and directions are available on the project webpage

How to Help

Make a donation online at stowelandtrust.org or mail a check made out to “Stowe Land Trust” with “Brownsville” in the memo line to PO Box 284, Stowe, VT 05672. Or consider hosting a fundraiser and contributing money raised to the campaign. Creative ideas welcome!