Leahy: Dorset Nets $263,500 To Grow The Dorset Town Forest

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Tuesday said a $263,500 grant to the Town of Dorset under a program Leahy authored will expand the town forest by 200 acres and create a protected public access.  The grant is part of $2.3 million being distributed nationwide for similar projects under Leahy’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program.

Leahy said, “This forest holds many historic cultural, recreational and ecological resources for the Town of Dorset and has long been valued by the community, by town planners and by conservation groups.  The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program was designed to make these one-of-a-kind investments in the continued protection of our dwindling forestland, while contributing to local communities’ access and use of those forests.  I have worked for years on this program, which has now supported 21 community forest projects across the country, and I am delighted to again to see it helping to conserve Vermont’s threatened forestland.”

Leahy, along with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.), supported the funding that the Town of Dorset sought from the U.S. Forest Service that will now be used to acquire and permanently protect approximately 200 acres for the new town forest in Bennington County.

The Leahy-authored program supports jobs and healthy town forests in communities across the nation, offering grants to local governments, tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations that are working to establish community forests.  Its focus is on economic and environmental benefits, education, forest stewardship and recreation opportunities.  The Community Forest Program follows in the footsteps of the Forest Legacy Program, first authored by Leahy in the 1990 Farm Bill, which has conserved more than 2.39 million acres of forest in 46 states, including 16 projects permanently conserving more than 80,000 acres in Vermont.

Leahy wrote and was able to secure the original authorization for the Community Forest Program in the 2008 Farm Bill, and he led the congressional efforts to continue that authorization in the 2014 Farm Bill that President Obama signed into law on February 7, 2014.  Leahy is the most senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Leahy said the Town of Dorset will be able to expand the Dorset Town Forest to 230 acres and to create protected public access to the community’s forest.  This 200 acre expansion of the town forest allows Dorset to better implement a forest management plan, creating a sustainable town forest and to protect the valuable resources the property will offer to the community.  This acquisition will expand recreation opportunities in the town with the property’s trail systems, which include stunning views of Dorset Hollow, Equinox & Mettawee Valley, and the Adirondacks from “Gilbert’s Lookout.”

Leahy said, “This support from the Community Forest Program will help to stave off development pressures for this valued forestland, which is home to rare and endangered plant communities as well as multiple quarries with many sights where buildings and operations for the Gettysburg Quarry were located.  All significant physical examples of Dorset’s strong historic ties to the marble industry that will be preserved because of this conservation and through support from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.”

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