Leahy Dedicates New, Improved Moosalamoo Trail Inspired By Robert Frost; (Incl. At-A-Glance News Backgrounder)

RIPTON, Vt. (TUESDAY, May 4, 2021) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) visited the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area (NRA) on Tuesday to dedicate the refurbished Robert Frost National Trail and Interpretive Area in the Green Mountain National Forest in Ripton, Vermont.

Work over the past two years, supported by funds Leahy secured through his leadership on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has greatly improved the Frost Trail to achieve full accessibility for those with mobility challenges and maintain this especially scenic forest landscape.  Leahy chairs the Appropriations Committee.

The Frost Trail provides an opportunity for visitors of all abilities to experience a number of distinct ecosystems in the National Forest.  To honor the renowned poet who lived and wrote there during the final two decades of his life, each meadow, stream and forest is interpreted through the poetry of Robert Frost.

Leahy in recent years has brought funding to the Moosalamoo NRA for work on the Frost Trail and other projects.  The Moosalamoo Association has long promoted and helped to maintain the 16,000-acre NRA and its more than 70 miles of trails.  The U.S. Forest Service welcomes visitors and manages the landscape for the entire 400,000-acre national forest, including the Moosalamoo NRA.

Leahy said:  “The Frost Trail is just one of a large number of superb and widely diverse recreational opportunities available here, at an accessible ‘Vermont scale’ that can be enjoyed by all.  That’s what convinced me 15 years ago that Moosalamoo deserved national recognition as a congressionally designated National Recreation Area, and it’s why I have worked to bring extra resources to the NRA.”

Angelo Lynn, President of the Moosalamoo Association said:  “Having the Robert Frost InterpretativeTrail within the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area is a perfect complement to surrounding 16,000 acres with all its varied uses.  The Moosalamoo Association is dedicated to using this recreation area for as many different uses as we can — hiking, running, mountain biking, camping, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, snowmobiling, Nordic and backcountry skiing, blueberry picking, birding and more — all to the benefit of the area communities and state. Having a mile-long scenic and contemplative trail that is universally accessible just adds another dimension to the MNRA that makes it even more unique, and a very special place to visit time and time again."

Green Mountain National Forest Supervisor John Sinclair said:  “We are delighted to see this heavily used and accessible site reopening with improvements to the visiting public.  We appreciate all of the engagement that we have received from the Senator and our partners on this high-profile project.  This has truly been a collaborative effort that will enhance and continue to diversify recreational use on the Green Mountain National Forest.”  Sinclair is the Forest Supervisor for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests.  

Monica White, Interim Commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, said:  “An estimated one in five Vermonters is living with at least one type of disability, and one in ten of us have two or more disabilities.  And, Vermont’s population is aging:  It is estimated that over a quarter of our population (28 percent) will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030.  Accessible exercise options are a key to healthy aging, for us all to keep moving and active as we grow older.  It is truly wonderful that Vermonters of all ages, with or without mobility impairments, can benefit from the newly refurbished Robert Frost Interpretive Trail to enjoy nature, to learn about history, and to share quality time together as neighbors and as friends.  Our communities are so much stronger when we make them accessible to and inclusive of all Vermonters.”

# # # # #

BELOW is an At-A-Glance News Backgrounder 

At-A-Glance News Backgrounder

Senator Patrick Leahy’s Land Conservation Legacy

Background For The Dedication Of The Robert Frost National Trail And Interpretive Site
May 4, 2021

The Moosalamoo National Recreation Area was established with legislation authored by Senators Leahy and Jeffords and by then-Congressman Sanders in 2006 as part of the Vermont Wilderness Act, which also established the Glastenbury and Joseph Battell Wilderness areas in the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) and expanded several other wilderness areas.  The National Recreation Area (NRA) designation recognizes that Moosalamoo is a recreation resource of national significance. 

Designation as an NRA did not, however, automatically provide additional funding to maintain or improve Moosalamoo.  Leahy sought funds for the NRA in his role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which he is now the Chairman, and has secured additional funds for the Moosalamoo NRA each year since 2018. 

In additional to the 2006 legislation Senator Leahy also sponsored legislation in 1975 and in 1984 designating the Big Branch, Bread Loaf, Bristol Cliffs, George D. Aiken, Lye Brook and Peru Peak wilderness areas as well as the White Rocks National Recreation area in the GMNF. 

Leahy has always made conservation of — and public access to — land and water a priority.  As a member and now Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he has supported GMNF land acquisition projects in annual spending bills for many years.  During this time, federal holdings in the GMNF have grown by more than 140,000 acres, to now more than 400,000 acres.  In addition to growing the national forest’s footprint in Vermont, Leahy has pressed for construction of a GMNF Forest Supervisor’s office, to serve as a Visitor Center and Headquarters, replacing the current leased office space.  As the direct result of a provision that he included in the fiscal year 2020 Appropriations bill, the new building is now under construction on USFS land on Route 4 in Mendon, to be completed in 2022.  

In addition to supporting Vermont projects annually, Leahy has worked over the years as the most senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to develop, write, and authorize some of the most significant federal farmland, forest, and wetland conservation laws.  As then-chairman of the committee, he  oversaw the creation of the Forest Legacy Program (FLP) in the 1990 Farm Bill.  Since 1990, FLP has conserved more than 2.8 million acres of forest land across all 50 states and the U.S. territories.  The more than 20 FLP projects in Vermont include conservation of the Green River Reservoir, the Chittenden County Uplands and the 7,000-acre Eden Forest.

Using the historic Vermont town forest system as a model, Senator Leahy led the creation of the Community Forest and Open Space program (CSP) as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and has been the lead congressional advocate for annual funding of the program since its authorization.  Vermont has completed 8 CFP projects, more than nearly any other state -- most recently the Huntington Town Forest conserved land next to the Huntington Elementary School.     

Leahy has also successfully supported full funding and permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the flagship federal land acquisition and outdoor recreation program, most recently as an original sponsor of the Great American Outdoors Act.  He turned to the LWCF for funding when, in 1998, a large swath of ecologically important land was put on the market in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, which led to the establishment of the 26,000-acre Nulhegan Division of the Conte National Wildlife Refuge. 

# # # # #