Unlock the potential of Scrag Town Forest in Waitsfield...
Many in The Mad River Valley have long enjoyed the incredibly diverse recreational opportunities, such as hiking, bird-watching, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, and hunting, in Waitsfield’s Scrag Town Forest. Located 10 minutes from the Waitsfield Village, the 640-acre property includes unbroken forestland, pristine streams, waterfalls, a high elevation beaver pond, habitat for a vast array of wildlife and plants, productive timberland, and more than one mile of undeveloped ridgeline along the Northfield Mountains.
We now have a now or never opportunity to acquire and permanently protect a 110-acre forested parcel that is a critical gateway to the Town Forest.
This land is currently privately owned and adjoins the southerly boundary of the Scrag Forest. The parcel provides the only legal way to get to the otherwise inaccessible Town Forest. While the Town currently has limited rights-of-way over the parcel for logging and public access, these are inadequate for meeting the public’s needs.
Let’s act today to prevent its sale for development. Let’s protect and improve our town forest for current and future generations.
Your gift will help us raise the money needed to protect this land--for which 77% of the total costs have already been raised!
The forest will...
- enhance the attractiveness of Waitsfield to visitors and bolster our local economy, by providing expanded opportunities for outdoor recreation
- increase access and the town’s sustainable management for timber and wildlife habitat
- support the local forest economy and provide revenue for the Town through sustainable forest management, maple sugaring, and timber harvests.
The forest will…
- protect sensitive headwater streams that are critical to water quality and flood resilience
- sustain intact habitat for wildlife and plants, and connectivity with adjoining forestlands.
- provide a scenic forested backdrop to our town along the Northfield Mountain range.
Our Quality of Life
The forest will…
- have an improved parking lot and trailhead, and a new pedestrian trail network.
- provide an expanded area for four-season recreation, such as hiking, snowshoeing, and hunting.
- increase educational and experiential opportunities for local schools.
View the embedded image gallery online at:
How will this project be financed?
The landowners have expressed a desire to sell to the Town and have offered the property at $450,000, a more than 30% discount from its appraised value of $650,000. If the Town does not act, they will sell the parcel for residential development. The next private owner would build a house on the approved building site in the heart of the property’s forestland. The private driveway commonly used by the public to access the Town Forest likely will be gated, and all public access will forevermore be restricted to the very limited rights-of-way that the Town holds. This could present ongoing challenges for the Town over time in managing public access and avoiding conflicts with the private landowner.
The Town of Waitsfield is working with the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) to obtain the funding needed and complete other steps for this critical acquisition. VLT has secured an Option to Purchase Agreement with the landowner, and will facilitate the Town’s purchase of the land if the needed funds can be raised.
More than 77% of the total cost of the land has already been raised!
- The US Forest Service has committed $256,500 in a competitive grant
- The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board committed $125,000
- The landowner is generously selling the property for approximately $200,000 less than its full value
- Request of funding pending from the Town of Waitsfield’s Restroom, Recreation and Conservation Fund: $40,000
- We still need charitable contributions from community members for $75,000 to acquire and protect the land.
- We are also seeking an additional $50,000 in private donations to help create a network of trails in the expanded Scrag Forest.
This combination of federal, state, municipal, and private funding will enable Waitsfield to seize this now-or-never opportunity to secure the gateway to its cherished Scrag Forest, ensuring it serves the landscape and communities in the Mad River Valley and the State of Vermont for generations to come.
Liza Walker, Vermont Land Trust, Mad River Valley Director at (802) 496-3490
Elise Annes, Vermont Land Trust VP for Community Relations at (802) 262-1206
Phil Huffman, Waitsfield Conservation Commission at (802) 496-3490
Cindy Carr, Community Member at (802) 229-8495