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Conservation Group Raises Funds To Create Jim Jeffords State Forest

The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit organization that creates parks and protects land for public use, says they are closing in on their goal to create a new state forest named in honor of former Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords.

The organization has been raising money for two years to buy a 1,300-acre parcel of land in Mendon and Shrewsbury and needs just $45,000 more to close the deal.

The price tag for the property is just over $1 million. But Kate Wanner, of the Trust for Public Land, calls that a bargain since the three private owners either donated or greatly reduced their selling price to help facilitate the project.

Wanner says the land in question would lie between Aiken and Coolidge State Forests, creating 88,000 continuous acres of accessible public land.

“The state was really interested in protecting the wildlife corridor between those two large chunks of land,” says Wanner. “Not only for bears, especially, who go down to Aiken to feed in the fall and then back up to Coolidge, but also for recreation purposes.”

She says a lot of privately owned property in Shrewsbury and Mendon has been posted in the last 20 years and access to hunting has declined in that part of Rutland County.

Creating the Jim Jeffords State Forest would create more accessible space for hunters, snowmobilers, skiers and hikers.

Wanner announced this week that Green Mountain Power and VELCO have donated $40,000 hoping to encourage others in the region to give. 

Once acquired, the property will be owned and managed by the state of Vermont with a conservation easement held by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. Wanner says the property will be managed to protect wildlife habitat, enable recreational uses, and to increase flood resiliency.

The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with the State of Vermont, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Green Mountain Club and the communities of Mendon and Shrewsbury on this project.

Wanner says so far the partners have commitments from public and private sources in excess of $1,092,000. The remaining $45,000 needs to be raised privately. 

Wanner says the late senator’s daughter Laura Jeffords was thrilled with the idea and thought it was something that her father, who lived for many years in Shrewsbury, would have whole-heartedly supported. 

Find more information about the forest here.

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