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Vermont Land Trust steps in to help skiers & hikers protect Bolton Valley's nordic and backcountry land

A few images of land that's worth protecting.

It was a year ago that I first got word that the owners of Bolton Valley Resort were selling a large parcel of land to an individual. And the shocker was that it would include the nordic trails and hamper access to a wonderful backcountry trail network. Most of the nordic center trails were not supposed to open for the 2011-2012 season.

Tears came to my eyes while reading that news. But thankfully, that was not the end of the story. 

Luckily for skiers, snowshoers and hikers, the prospective buyer ended up not buying, and the owners of Bolton Valley got a chance to turn the situation around into a reputation-enhancing opportunity. A group of skiers had quickly formed the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic. The group’s leaders started talking to the resort’s owners (who include owners of the Redstone real estate group) and the Vermont Land Trust to make it clear that a lot of people wanted to preserve that special land with such amazing recreational and natural value.

Thankfully the Vermont Land Trust agreed that the land had tremendous value and they have been working on a way to preserve the land from development.

Last night, the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic gathered in the library in Richmond to get an update on progress, and today a press conference made the news public: The Vermont Land Trust has brokered a deal for the purchase of 1,161 acres of the nordic trial and backcountry area land from the owners of Bolton Valley Resort for the price of $1.6 million.

The large parcel includes nordic and backcountry trails on the northwest side of Joyner Brook, as well as 170 acres of backcountry trails on the northeast side of the brook, to the north of the alpine resort.

If everything goes smoothly with the Town of Bolton, the State Agency of Natural Resources, and fundraising, the land would be purchased, transferred to the state, and become a part of the Mount Mansfield State Forest. Also, the goal is to have the State give Bolton Valley Resort a license to continue to maintain and operate the nordic trail system and collect fees as they currently do.

But a lot of work has to be done in the next year to make that happen!

Last night the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic broke into three groups to brainstorm ideas for outreach, fundraising and stewardship. The ever-growing group will work closely with the Vermont Land Trust to conduct a $1,050,000 fundraising campaign. VLT is also seeking a $800,000 grant from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

Why protect this parcel of land? 

If you are wondering what the Bolton Valley trail network is like, <link http: category bolton-valley external-link-new-window>please follow this link to see our many posts and photos about it. Look for posts on this list that are tagged with both “backcountry” and “cross-country.”

This land is high in altitude and allows for great skiing and snowshoeing even when the conditions may not be great in the lowlands. And it’s a gateway for a section of the Catamount Trail called the Bolton-Trapps trail, a popular high-altitude, remote ski experience.

The nordic center trails offer great groomed cross-country skiing, while the backcountry trail network and glades offer an extraordinary ungroomed experience. When you ascend into these trails, you feel far away from the world, even though this area is very close to a ski resort. Also of importance is the accessibility of this area; it's within a reasonable drive for a large population of Vermonters.

Additionally, this land is contiguous with the Mt. Mansfield State Forest and is home to wildlife such as moose (we often see moose tracks) and bear and more. The lovely Joyner Brook makes its way down through the forest and toward the Winooski River.

In the summertime, hikers enjoy this beautiful piece of land, where they can even connect to the adjacent Long Trail.

Want to get involved in protecting this land from development?

Visit the <link http: initiatives active-community-projects bolton external-link-new-window>Vermont Land Trust website and fill out the sign-up form that is there. Broad participation will be required to meet the goals of this campaign to protect this land from development.


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