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The Andrews Family Forestland
For 101 years, Vermont towns have been investing in forestland as a community asset. Town forests offer outdoor recreation, education, wildlife habitat, sustainable timber harvests, good water quality, and flood control. Right now, Richmond has the exciting opportunity to purchase the 428-acre Andrews Forestland as a Town Forest, while protecting the forest and the public’s access to it with a permanent conservation easement held by the Vermont Land Trust (VLT).
The Andrews family is looking to sell the woodlands associated with their historic farm on Route 2. They would like to see the land remain forested and open to the public.
In December, the Select board unanimously voted to approve an application to use the Richmond Conservation Reserve Fund toward buying the Andrews Forestland. A public vote from 7 am - 7 pm on March 7, 2017 (Town Meeting Day) is needed to confirm the use of the Fund.
The voters of Richmond will be able to vote on Town Meeting Day from 7 am - 7 pm to determine whether the Town of Richmond will use up to $125,000 from the Richmond Conservation Reserve Fund toward the purchase of the Andrews Forestland as a Richmond Town Forest.
“Shall the voters of Richmond authorize the use Conservation Reserve Fund monies to acquire a 428-acre parcel of undeveloped land located at 1149 East Main Street, known as the Andrews Forestland, for conservation and recreation purposes, in an amount up to $125,000, as the Town’s contribution toward the full purchase?”
Benefits of a Town Forest in Richmond
Natural Resources Significant to Vermont
The land is part of a large block of forestland ranked in the top 3% of Vermont’s wildlife habitat blocks by Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife. The property has been actively managed under a forest management plan, which can continue under town ownership. It sits amidst 9,500 acres conserved as part of the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Project, a landscape-scale, multi-partner effort to link over 64,000 acres of State land within Mt. Mansfield State Forest and Camel’s Hump State Park.
The Andrews Forestland has a VAST trail and opportunities for hiking, cross country skiing, mountain biking, hunting, birdwatching, and more. The Richmond Trails Committee is excited about the potential for connections from the trails at Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) to the Old Jericho Road Trail and Richmond Village, to form an integrated trail system on both sides of the Winooski River.
There are several headwater streams on the property that flow into the Winooski River and then to Lake Champlain. Conservation of the forestland will protect water quality by avoiding any increases in surface-water runoff or flooding risks that could come with development or poor land management.
Diverse and uncommon natural features, three vernal pools, a beaver pond, an old cellar hole, and a rich history offer environmental and cultural education opportunities for all ages.
Historic, Scenic and Cultural Values
The Andrews Family’s Gray Rocks Farm is on the National Register of Historic Places. The forest provides a scenic backdrop to the monitor barns, and helps define Richmond’s historic rural character. There are impressive views over meadows and through forest openings to Camel’s Hump.
Project Schedule and Funding
March 7, 2017: Town Meeting with ballot item to use up to $125,000 of the Conservation Reserve Fund to purchase the Andrews Forestland as a Richmond Town Forest.
June 30, 2017: $225,000 must be raised by this time to extend the option agreement to December 31.
December 31, 2017: The option must be exercised by this date. Closing on the purchase must then occur within 90 days.
The total project budget is $597,000 (appraised value of the property of $540,000 plus conservation project costs of $57,000). With a purchase price of $450,000, the Andrews family is generously accepting $90,000 less than appraised value. Potential income sources include: Town of Richmond Conservation Reserve Fund, Federal Community Forest Grant, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board Grant, and private individual and foundation funding.