By Jito Coleman for the Warren Conservation Commission
The Warren Conservation Commission would like to express our enthusiastic support for the permanent protection of the strategic forestland in the Lincoln Peak Conservation Project in Warren and Lincoln, Vermont. This project will secure highly ranked core forestland, important headwater streams, rare wildlife habitat, a broad scenic viewshed from the Mad River Byway and recreation opportunities of statewide significance.
Warren's distinctive sense of place is built upon the rugged beauty of our mountains, our rural character and the diversity of exceptional recreational opportunities available here. This project responds to many of the core values of the Conservation Commission, particularly our focus on protecting biodiversity and wildlife habitat connectivity, and addresses many of the goals of the Warren Town Plan (2018 draft).
Warren's 2008 Natural Heritage Inventory and Assessment identified this property as priority forest block and core habitat, high-value wildlife habitat, potential deer wintering area, and containing rare, threatened or endangered species and natural communities. The permanent protection of this property will address the Town Plan goal of “Maintaining, preserving and enhancing the town's natural resources and environmental quality” and specifically strategy 19, “Ensure that critical wildlife habitat is protected from development and that fragmentation of forest land is minimized.”
“Land with identified wildlife values, including critical habitat for endangered species ...” is one of the top priorities of the Conservation Commission.
Conserving this property will also secure 1.3 miles of the Catamount Trail and buffer 0.4 mile of the Long Trail, two trails of statewide significance. According to the Catamount Trail Association, if access through this property were lost, it would be nearly impossible to reroute this section due to topographic limitations, significant stream crossings and surrounding ski area development.
This project will protect 60 acres of riparian areas along more than 4 miles of headwater streams of Lincoln and Bradley Brook, tributaries of the Mad River. This addresses the Town Plan goal of “encouraging flood resilient communities” and the Conservation Commission's conservation priority of “resources that would protect or enhance water quality, such as wetlands, headwater areas and riparian buffers along the Mad River and its tributaries.”
With the eventual sale of this land to the U.S. Forest Service, there would be a Payment in Lieu of Taxes from the USFS that would be less than the tax income from a private landowner. The difference is $587. To make up for this loss, the town tax rate would increase by 1/100 of a penny.
The change of ownership for the parcels will have no impact whatsoever on the neighbor’s right of way nor their private property rights.
Given the range and importance of the benefits of this project, the Warren Conservation Commission gives its full support of this property's permanent protection as an addition to Green Mountain National Forest.
Coleman is the chair of the Warren Conservation Commission.