Stowe Land Trust is asking the community to help raise $75,000 to protect Brownsville Forest.
At 750 acres, Brownsville Forest is the last large, undeveloped parcel of forest that can be protected in Stowe.
Brownsville Forest was listed for sale last summer for $9.95 million, and could be developed. The forest is part of the Worcester Range, one of Vermont’s most wild and least protected mountain ranges.
The land contains forest, wetland and open habitat for local wildlife. Until the property was posted several years ago, neighbors and residents long used the land for hiking, hunting, cross-country skiing and more.
Stowe Land Trust has a contract to buy and protect Brownsville Forest at the end of July, if it can raise $5.75 million by that time.
“We have had a fantastic initial response from a wide range of people with a variety of interests who all want to help protect Brownsville Forest,” said Kristen Sharpless, the land trust’s executive director. “Now we’re asking the Stowe-area community to chip in $75,000 toward this exciting conservation effort and help ensure that it is a success.”
Stowe Land Trust received a $5 million anonymous donation toward acquiring the forest earlier this year; the money was channeled through the Vermont Community Foundation. Since then, the land trust has made significant progress toward raising the remaining $750,000 with the help of a local fundraising committee.
If the land trust can acquire the land, it plans to transfer ownership to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, which will manage the land as a cohesive unit with the surrounding C.C. Putnam State Forest.
The land will remain undeveloped and be open to the public for nonmotorized recreation, subject to a management plan prepared with public input. Stowe Land Trust will maintain a conservation easement and perpetual guardianship of the property.
The land trust hopes as many people as possible will contribute, so it’s a real community-participation event.
“Brownsville Forest is such an important conservation project for our community that it would be great to have as many people to participate as possible,” says Chess Brownell, a land trust board member and co-chair of the fundraising committee. “Many of those who know the property are thrilled that it will be public land, and those who have yet to experience the beauty and wild character of this forest will likely see the merits of this project.”
If the land trust can secure 750 donations by July, a group of land trust supporters have committed to donate an additional $75,000 toward the effort, which will double the financial impact of the community campaign.
“Whether it is $1, $100 or $1000, all contributions are needed and important,” Brownell said. “We hope that everyone will do what they can to help Stowe Land Trust continue its work to conserve our environment and our community’s shared values.”
The land trust will offer a number of opportunities for people to get out on the land this spring. Check the land trust’s website — stowelandtrust.org — or call 253-7221 for more information. The property is still owned privately and is currently posted, so please respect landowner wishes.
Members of the public are welcome to experience Brownsville Forest via the Class 4 roads that pass through the property. A map and directions are available on Stowe Land Trust’s website.
Ways to help:
• Make a donation online at stowelandtrust.org.
• Mail a check made out to “Stowe Land Trust” with “Brownsville” in the memo line to P.O. Box 284, Stowe, VT 05672.
• Consider hosting a fundraiser for the campaign. Creative ideas welcome.