Tuesday March 27, 2012

READSBORO -- With the purchase of two private parcels, the Green Mountain National Forest has grown by 680 acres.

The Trust for Public Land and the U.S. Forest Service announced Monday the addition of the 380-acre Grimes property and the 300-acre Mutrie property, includes 1.4 miles of land along the Deerfield River, and encompasses valuable wetlands.

Kate Wanner, of The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit that works to conserve land for public use, said the parcels will connect three previously unconnected plots of Green Mountain National Forest and open the area up to recreational uses such as fishing, hunting, and hiking. Wanner said the land is mostly forest, the one house having been removed. The Forest Service may one day provide parking and a trail head, but as of now it is mostly logging trails people use to hike and move about.

The purchase agreements were drafted in 2009, according to Wanner. The trust negotiated with Andrew Grimes, of Reading, Mass., and John Mutrie, of Wellesley, Mass. The Grimes property to the north was bought for $434,000, while the Mutrie property to the south went for $318,000. The Grimes land has the river frontage, while the Mutrie parcel is known for being good bear habitat.

The trust received the money for the purchase using the Land and Water Conservation Fund, according to Wanner. The fund is built through royalties energy companies pay through federal offshore leases. Vermont’s Congressional delegation praised the use of the fund for the Readsboro acquisition.

"This is a great example of why the Land and Water Conservation Fund was created and has been used so effectively in Vermont as an vital tool for conserving our important forest resources and preventing the subdivision that has cut off public access in many other areas of the state," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

"We are overjoyed to conserve these properties for the Green Mountain National Forest," said Rodger Krussman, the trust’s Vermont state director. The properties include 100 acres of wetlands, two miles of streams, various types of timber, and a wide range of animals including migratory waterfowl.

In 2010, voters in Readsboro supported the sale.

Wanner said the parcels are 1.8 miles south of the eastern portion of a proposed wind power facility. Deerfield Wind, LLC, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, is the principal on the project, which has been approved by both the state and Forest Service; however the agency’s approval has been appealed.