• Published in Editorials

This week a forward-thinking group of Moretown residents came to their select board to ask the board to consider how two large, environmentally significant, high-elevation tracts of land might be conserved.

There’s a 2,228-acre parcel along Herring Brook Road and a 776-acre parcel on South Hill Road. The larger parcel is on the market for $2.89 million and has $2.6 million worth of timber. The smaller parcel is on the market for $1.29 million and has $900,000 worth of timber.

The citizens group has reached out to the Vermont Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land and will do further outreach. The Trust for Public Land – which conserved the Dowsville Headwater area several years ago and is working toward conservation of a large tract of land near Lincoln Gap currently – can only use its funds toward lands that are adjacent to federal land.

It may seem like a daunting task for one small town in central Vermont to try to raise enough money to conserve those lands and it is daunting! But it’s probably worth trying.

Conserving that land is critical to high-elevation headwaters and habitat for deep wood species. It is critical to create more opportunities for recreation in our watershed. In 2015 the trails at Blueberry Lake in Warren generated an additional $1.8 million in revenue for The Valley. Recreation is an enormous attraction for visitors and potential residents alike. It draws people and it pays dividends.

Grassroots efforts helped the town of Waitsfield purchase additional property adjacent to its existing Scrag Municipal Forest where hiking and snowshoeing are bringing additional visitors. That took grassroots work as well as grant writing skills.

Another very successful grassroots effort led to Warren Falls being sold to the U.S. Forest Service and remaining public. That specific effort, led by a Warren resident, sought a $10 donation from everyone in The Valley. It was enormously successful and entailed grants along with some larger and smaller donations.

Attempting to conserve one or both of these properties in Moretown is well worth the effort and should be pursued. Here’s to Moretown’s new town forests and recreation areas!