The Hunger Mountain Headwaters — 1,877 acres in Stowe, Middlesex and Worcester — have been permanently protected in a joint effort by the Trust for Public Land, Stowe Land Trust and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.
Additions to the C.C. Putnam State Forest protect forests, habitat and waters of the Worcester Range on the east side of the Stowe valley.
The newly protected properties include the approach trail, from the east side of the Worcester Range, to Hunger Mountain and White Rock Mountain, two of the most popular day hikes in central Vermont. The additions ensure public access to these peaks, protect critical wildlife habitat and the Winooski River Watershed, and become part of more than 20,000 acres of contiguous conservation land.
“Wild and remote outdoor experiences are part of what make Vermont a great place for visitors and residents alike,” said Kate Wanner, project manager at the Trust for Public Land. “This expansion of protection of the Worcester Range — one of the only undeveloped mountain ranges without a ski area or bisecting roads — will safeguard that sense of wildness and exceptional outdoor experiences just minutes away from the capital, and the recreational hubs of Waterbury and Stowe.
“During this time of uncertainty, access to trails and vast public lands will be an essential part of our mental and emotional health, recovery, allowing us to reconnect to nature and our community.”
These properties also provide vital habitat for wildlife, including moose, bobcat and ruffed grouse. Wild brook trout thrive in 12 miles of streams that feed the Winooski River, and the property’s rock outcrops and ledges are thought to be denning sites for bobcat, bear and porcupine.
“Stowe Land Trust’s investment in this landscape-scale conservation effort reflects how much the greater Stowe community values the vastness and wild character of the Worcester Range — even the portions that fall well outside Stowe’s town boundaries,” said Kristen Sharpless, Stowe Land Trust’s executive director. “We are grateful to landowners, like Charlie and Gibby Berry, whose vision and generous action in conserving their land makes efforts like these possible along with the Forest Legacy Program and many private foundations and individuals who helped to fund the project.
“We are especially pleased that the 109 acres protected in Stowe and previously owned by the Berrys also fall within the Shutesville Hill Wildlife Corridor — an internationally important wildlife corridor connecting the Worcester Range and the Green Mountains — that we are simultaneously working to protect with other local and statewide partners.”
As additions to C.C. Putnam State Forest, the land will be owned and managed by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation to promote diverse public access opportunities, sustainable forest management, high-quality wildlife habitat, water quality and the function of water systems, and the protection of natural, historical and cultural resources.