With the protection of a 428-acre town forest in Richmond, Vermont earlier this year, the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Project (CCUCP) surpassed the threshold of 10,000 acres of land conserved since the partnership’s founding in 1999.
The Chittenden County Uplands occupies an expanse of land between the Champlain Valley and the Green Mountains in one of the most densely populated regions of Vermont. This priority corridor situated between the Mount Mansfield State Forest and Camel’s Hump State Park abounds with outdoor recreational opportunities and is home to breeding populations of moose, black bear, fisher and other wildlife.
CCUCP coordinator Bob Heiser emphasized the critical role that the partnership’s early mapping and prioritization work played in laying a foundation for an impressive array of conservation projects, including a beloved community skiing area in the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry, land owned by the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, portions of the Long Trail and the Catamount Trail, and most recently, the Richmond Town Forest.
A nationally-competitive grant from the US Forest Service Community Forest Program helped the Town of Richmond purchase the property for use as a town forest. Additional financial support came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), the Richmond Conservation Fund, the Open Space Institute, and the Conservation Alliance. “The fact that the Richmond Town Forest was part of this larger landscape initiative and a longtime priority for a diverse group of partners was key to the project’s ability to attract investment from a wide range of funding sources,” Heiser explained. A conservation easement co-held by Vermont Land Trust and VHCB will permanently protect the forest and the public’s access to it.
Heiser noted that Richmond Town Forest land was one of eight prominent properties in the region that helped to galvanize local residents and conservationists to form the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Project in the first place, so the fact that this project put the RCP over the 10,000-acre mark has special resonance for the partnership.
Read more about the Richmond Town Forest.
Photo by Olivia Wolf