Vermont Land Trust to purchase 1,161 acres at the Bolton Valley Nordic center for $1.85 million

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Vermont Land Trust to purchase 1,161 acres at the Bolton Valley Nordic center for $1.85 million

Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:52am -- tim

With the outpouring of support and encouragement from those who have enjoyed decades of Nordic and backcountry skiing at Bolton Valley, the Vermont Land Trust signed a contract to purchase the 1,161 acres that hosts the Bolton Valley Nordic and backcountry trails. 
In addition to attracting more than 15,000 people each year, the land is in the center of the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Project (CCUCP) area’an area that has been a focus for forestland and habitat protection for more than 10 years. 
The Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry Land Inspired Action 
In February of 2011, the public learned that the majority of the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry trails were to be sold to a private individual and that public access to the land would be lost. At that time a small group of individuals expressed their concern regarding the potential private sale of the land.  Due in part to the public outcry, that sale did not occur.  Since then, the group -- the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry (FOBVNB)-- has grown to 200 people.   
‘We are a group of people with a long history of dedication to working, hiking, and skiing in this beautiful niche of Vermont forest land,’ said Ann Gotham who the coordinator of the FOBVNB.  ‘Our ages range from mid 20’s to 90 years old.  Our intent is to conserve the parcel of land being sold by Bolton Valley and its investors while maintaining access to public use.’ 
FOBVNB are inspired by both the land that they feel passionate about and by the memory of Gardiner Lane, a man who made Bolton his home in 1968. Prior to Gardiner Lane’s death in 2005 at the age of 90, he rolled up his sleeves for almost four decades with other volunteers to flag, clear, and maintain the current Bolton Valley Nordic trail system.  This group of volunteers was later named ‘The Old Goats.’  Today, dedicated volunteers numbering from 30 to 50 throughout the fall months continue to maintain the trail system. 
The Vermont Land Trust has joined forces with FOBVNB, and with a recently signed a contract the two organizations have kicked off a capital campaign to raise the money needed to complete the purchase of the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry land. ‘Our next steps include broadening our base of supporters, engaging the Town of Bolton in our efforts, and raising just over a million dollars by May 2013,’ said Gotham. ‘Yes, it is a tall order, but we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve this incredible land.’  
The Bolton Nordic and Backcountry Land offers unparalleled recreation opportunities 
With over 90 kilometers of groomed and backcountry trails, Bolton Valley is one of the three largest Nordic trail systems in Vermont. Skiers of all ages enjoy the combination of groomed and ungroomed trails available for classical, skate and backcountry skiing. In the summer all of these trails are great for hiking. The base elevation is also the highest of any Nordic center in Vermont, extending both ends of the season for winter users. The Catamount Trail runs through the property and provides connections to other popular backcountry routes including Trapp Family Lodge, Mt. Mansfield State Forest, Underhill State Park, and Little River State Park. 
The property is easily accessible to Vermont’s largest population center, located just 40 minutes from Burlington and half of Vermont’s population sits within 30 miles of this land. As a result, many public schools, colleges, and universities use the land for outing club events, outdoor education, and ski racing and training. Currently, the property is the practice area for several ski teams and clubs, including Essex and Burlington High Schools, Northwest Vermont Nordic Ski Club, and UVM’s top-ranked Nordic team. 
Wildlife and Natural Resource Protection 
The Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry property is part of an important wildlife habitat connection between two large blocks of state land: Mt. Mansfield State Forest and Camel’s Hump State Park. The land includes the majority of the headwaters and much of the watershed of Joiner Brook, which feeds into the Winooski River. 
The Bolton Valley lands were identified as the highest priority for conservation by the partners in the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation project’a community conservation effort that has protected 8,000 acres in 10 years. 
The Vermont Land Trust and FOBVNB Lead Campaign to Permanently Protect the Land 
‘The hundreds of hikers and skiers who treasure this place taught us that this land must be added to Mt. Mansfield State Forest,’ said Gil Livingston, President of the Vermont Land Trust.  ‘It became obvious to us almost a year ago that the broad community of people who appreciate the natural beauty and ecological resources of the land were determined to see it permanently protected. Spurred on by their passion, the Vermont Land Trust was able to secure an agreement to buy the land. Together VLT and the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic will create a lasting legacy for future generations.’ 
Over the next 15 months, the Vermont Land Trust, and community members who care about the land, will work together on a campaign to raise the money necessary to protect the land and keep it open and always available for public use. If the money is not raised, the property will likely fall to private ownership. There is also the possibility of a development with dozens of homes. 
The Vermont Land Trust’s purchase price and related expenses is $1,850,000. Because of the property’s statewide significance, the Vermont Land Trust will approach the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board for a public grant contribution. The remaining $1,050,000 will need to come from local fundraising. 
‘To protect this incredible resource, we need the help of those who love the property: those who ski and hike there, and those who appreciate the unique natural resources and beauty of the Uplands region,’ said Elise Annes, Vice President for Community Relations at the Vermont Land Trust. 
At this time the Vermont Land Trust is meeting with those that wish to make leadership gifts (of $5,000 or more) and will become part of the Gardiner Lane Legacy Society. After the initial major financial campaign milestone is reached, VLT will then seek gifts of all sizes.
About the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic
The Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry (FOBVNB) are a group of people with a long history of dedication to working, hiking, and skiing on the property.  These outdoor enthusiasts range in age from the mid 20’s to 90 years old and are following in the footsteps of Gardiner Lane, who passed away at the age of 90 in 2005 and was dedicated to the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry trails.  Gardiner Lane is considered by many as the father of backcountry skiing in Vermont. FOBVNB members care deeply about maintaining access to public use. They are a core group of devotees who continue the yearly traditions of clearing, maintaining, and skiing the trails.  They do it with the same TLC, story-telling, and teamwork that Gardiner taught them. They wish to continue this tradition in order to facilitate the community’s as well as their own enjoyment of these trails.  
About the Vermont Land Trust
The Vermont Land Trust is a private, nonprofit land conservation organization working on behalf of all Vermonters to protect vital pieces of our landscape for farming, forestry, biological diversity, scenic beauty, and recreational use. Since 1977, VLT has helped conserve about eight percent of the private, undeveloped land in the state. The conserved land includes more than 650 working farms, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive forestland, and important community lands. To learn more visit www.vlt.org.