From The Conservation Fund.
Conservation of 629-acres on both sides of the National Scenic Trail ensures natural character, recreational access and critical wildlife habitat
KILLINGTON, Vt. — The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS), announced today the protection of 629 acres surrounding the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) in Killington. The property has been conveyed to NPS from The Conservation Fund thanks to funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
In addition to securing the immediate viewshed and day-hike entry on both sides of a 1.3-mile stretch of the AT, the conserved land will continue to provide recreational access for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
“This acquisition highlights the power of partnership in preserving and protecting the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The National Park Service thanks all those involved for their commitment and support to secure this property and its critical viewshed for the enjoyment and benefit of all,” said Wendy Janssen, Appalachian National Scenic Trail Superintendent.
The Conservation Fund, a national environmental nonprofit, purchased the property in 2014 through its Working Forest Fund® with support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation as part of 30,000 acres of former industrial timberland threatened by conversion across Vermont, New York, New Hampshire and Maine. The organization managed it as a sustainable working forest until the NPS could secure the necessary LWCF funding to acquire and protect the land. The land is now being managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) and provides critical habitat for black bears, moose and migratory birds, as well as important wintering areas for deer.
“The GMNF is excited about the new acquisition along the Appalachian Trail in Killington because the lands will provide extra protection of the trail and add valuable wildlife value and habitat connectivity along this high use trail section,” said Christopher Mattrick, Rochester and Middlebury District Ranger.
This latest acquisition complements decades of local efforts to conserve over 16,000 acres of natural lands in the region and enhance protection for the AT corridor, including 1,017 acres adjacent to the state-owned Les Newell Wildlife Management Area that The Conservation Fund conveyed to NPS in 2012 through the Chateauguay No Town Conservation Project
“The rugged ridgeline traversed by the Appalachian Trail in the Chateauguay region is at the heart of this high priority and vulnerable landscape of wilderness amidst an increasingly developed area of Vermont,” said Sally Manikian, The Conservation Fund’s New Hampshire and Vermont Representative. “The Conservation Fund’s efforts over the last three decades to ensure habitat connectivity, recreational beauty, and watershed protection here have been driven by partnerships and bolstered by local community support. We are grateful for the LWCF funding and the ongoing support of Vermont’s U.S. Congressional delegation.”
This is one of Vermont’s first conservation wins since the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020, which fully and permanently funded the LWCF. LWCF is a bipartisan program that conserves ecologically and scenically valuable land across the U.S.—including many of Vermont’s iconic natural places, like the GMNF, Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Vermont’s U.S. Congressional delegation—U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, and U.S. Representative Peter Welch—supported the use of federal LWCF funding for this project.
Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a longtime champion of the Green Mountain National Forest and of the forest trails in Vermont, said: “I congratulate and thank The Conservation Fund, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service on this important conservation achievement. This trail in Killington is perhaps the most important gateway to the Appalachian Trail and to the National Forest in Vermont and the region. Securing these lands is a gift to everyone, and especially to those using the trail today, and tomorrow. This is a legacy for generations of Vermonters now, and to come.”
“We have a long history of conservation in Vermont,” said Senator Sanders. “And it’s because of conservation efforts like this that we are able to safeguard our ecological heritage, our proud tradition of working the land, our local economies, and some of the most extensive, accessible and scenic outdoor spaces in the U.S. This is a major environmental win for our state since passing the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020, which fully and permanently funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I am proud that this federal funding helped make this project possible and is doing exactly what it is meant to do: protecting our natural resources for generations to come.”
“Vermont’s outdoor recreation opportunities are world-renowned and our shared commitment to conservation and sustainability is critical to our way of life,” said Representative Welch. “The protection of these acres around the Appalachian Trail will preserve Vermont’s wildlife and ensure this historic area remains accessible and safe for recreators. I have long supported the Land and Water Conservation Fund because these investments continue the vital work of protecting and conserving Vermont’s natural environments. I’ll continue to fight in Congress for the conservation of the great outdoors here in Vermont and the significant social, health, and economic benefits they provide.”