MONTPELIER, VT â€“ A critical Green Mountains wildlife link has been protected on the Vermont border with Canada, The Trust for Public Land and partners announced Monday. Known as Jackson Valley, the 935-acre landscape near the Town of Jay is an ecological keystone that will connect to more than 22,000 acres of protected forestland in the United States and Canada. The property also buffers more than a mile of the Long Trail, the nation's oldest long-distance hiking trail.
After two years of negotiation, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, facilitated the purchase of a federal Forest Legacy conservation easement over Jackson Valley by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The easement will be held by the State of Vermont, primarily to support wildlife habitat, in addition to allowing sustainable harvesting and public pedestrian recreational access.
The trust and the state will not own the land, which will be held by its private owners.
"This is a critical wildlife and recreation victory for the United States and Canada, and for the Green Mountains and for the historic Long Trail," said Rodger Krussman, TPL's Vermont director. "Jackson Valley is the keystone to a connected, cross-border Sutton Mountains to Green Mountains linkage, and was a top priority for the Vermont Forest Legacy program."
Funding for the $585,000 purchase price of the easement came entirely from the federal government through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Legacy Program, a conservation program authored by Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.Â The funding was secured through the leadership of Sen. Leahy, and support from U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Representative Peter Welch.
Senator Patrick Leahy said, "It is great to see the Northern Green Mountains conservation project take another big step forward.Â This acquisition buffers the Long Trail and connects to conserved land in Canada. Jackson Valley is a gem in its own right, and a linchpin to the larger.Â I am proud to have helped and congratulate everyone who has worked so hard to make it happen."
Senator Sanders said, "This easement along the Canadian Border will preserve a significant asset for future generations of Vermonters, for recreation, for wildlife and for sustainable harvesting. I applaud the work of public and private entities in working together so successfully to protect this land.Â Our forest lands are part of Vermont's heritage; a heritage we must maintain to protect the state's unique character."
Representative Welch said, "Vermonters take great pride in our rural landscape. Today's news will allow Vermonters to enjoy all this landscape has to offer for generations to come. I applaud all parties for their efforts."
The cross-boundary wildlife corridor supports bear, moose, marten, and bobcat among many other important species. Coalitions including Two Countries, One Forest, which supports conservation from the Green Mountains to the Sutton Mountains in Quebec; and Staying Connected, which works in New England to restore wildlife connectivity, consider Jackson Valley a vital conservation priority.
"The completion of this conservation project is truly inspiring; it gives concrete expression to the common vision which unites both the USA and Canada over the protection of the Green Mountains," said MĂ©lanie LeliĂ¨vre, Appalachian Corridor Executive Director. "When we look at the actions of conservation groups beyond political borders, we see that individual projects are part of broader initiative which benefits both community and wildlife. Congratulations to The Trust for Public Land and Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for this successful outcome."
"The Northern Green Mountains is one of the key linkages that have been found critical to maintain landscape scale connectivity in the Northern Appalachians and the incredible conservation work going on in this area sets the ground rules for what we would like to see unfold elsewhere in this ecoregion." adds, Louise Gratton, Chair, 2C1Forest.
Nathalie Zinger, regional vice-president for the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Quebec, sees Jackson Valley as more than a significant gain for conservation. "It is contiguous to large tracks of land protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada right across the border and represents the very essence of a shared conservation strategy between organizations in Vermont and Quebec."
The Green Mountain Club created the adjacent Long Trail more than a century ago, and conservation of Jackson Valley represents a critical victory for sustaining the recreational experience along the trail.
A generous grant of $93,000 from the Open Space Conservancy, Inc., through their Transborder Land Protection Fund, helped cover associated acquisition costs and a stewardship fund.
Michael Snyder, Commissioner of Vermont's Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation said, "One of the primary goals of Vermont's Forest Legacy program is to protect working forests to sustain their economic, ecological, and social values.Â The protection of Jackson Valley achieves program goals, including watershed protection, wildlife habitat protection, low impact recreation, and future sustainable timber management for the region."
TPL is a national, nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places. Since 1972, TPL has completed 4,500 projects in 47 states, protecting more than 3 million acres, including more than 50,000 acres throughout Vermont. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Visit tpl.org/Vermont.
Open Space Conservancy, Inc., an affiliate of the Open Space Institute, Inc. is managing the Transborder Protection Fund, a $2 million fund established to protect the ecologically significant forested landscapes in the Northern Appalachian/Acadian eco-region, an 80 million-acre region spanning the eastern edge of North America along the boundaries of the United States and Canada.