On July 30, representatives from Stowe Land Trust and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation gathered to sign the documents protecting the 750-acre Brownsville-Story Ridge Forest with a permanent conservation easement, and transferring ownership of the land to the State of Vermont as an addition to the surrounding C.C. Putnam State Forest.
Stowe Land Trust received more than 750 donations in support of the conservation project, totaling $6 million, which included a $5 million anonymous donation through the Vermont Community Foundation and a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
“Thanks to the broad and deep support from the Stowe area community and the hard work of our partners, this incredible property is now protected and will be open for the public to enjoy for generations to come,” said land trust executive director Kristen Sharpless. “It’s a fantastic outcome for the land and our community, and we are now excited to take on the role of ensuring that this special place is cared for forever.”
“Protecting this gem for the public not only provides wonderful benefits locally, but it also enhances a significant statewide asset for all Vermonters and our guests to enjoy now and into the future,” said Forests, Parks, and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder. "We’re deeply appreciative of Stowe Land Trust and the surrounding community for their hard work.”
An interim stewardship plan is in place to guide the use and management of the Brownsville-Story Ridge Forest while the new landowner, the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, completes its Long Range Management Plan for the Worcester Range Management Unit, of which this property is now a part. During this interim period, the land will be open and available to the public for recreational uses that are in keeping with protecting the area’s quiet and remote character, and include hiking, hunting, skiing, snowshoeing, and wildlife observation.
The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation has already begun assessing the condition of the property’s access and existing trail network. Through this early work, the Department has determined that a portion of the trail network is in good condition and will be open to the public for pedestrian use immediately.
Although mountain biking is a historic use on the property, the trails do not currently meet standards for sustainable use. All trails on the property will be closed to bikes until trails can be fully assessed to determine suitability for mountain biking and improvements can be made to meet industry standards for mountain bike trails. With support from local partners, including the Stowe Trails Partnership and Stowe Land Trust, the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation will continue assessment, planning and trail work with the potential to open additional trails and allow more uses as improvements are approved and completed.
The public is invited to attend a ribbon cutting celebration at Brownsville-Story Ridge Forest on Wednesday, August 21st at 9am. The ribbon cutting will be followed by an opportunity to take a guided walk on the land.