A 360-Degree View for Newbury: Town Celebrates New Town Forest
The top of Tucker Mountain in Newbury was cleared for pastures in 1810 and has remained open ever since. These grassy meadows have 360-degree views, abundant wildflowers, and excellent habitat for nesting birds. For many years, the land had been owned by the Leach family, who allowed the public to explore the mountain.
“As far back as the 1940s, my parents, Phil and Ginny Leach, enjoyed the distant views from atop Tucker Mountain,” said Tina Clark. “In the early ‘70s, much development was taking place in Vermont and Tucker Mountain was up for sale. Phil and Ginny made the decision to purchase the land to protect it as open space. They have both since passed on, leaving Tucker Mountain to their children and grandchildren.”
Those children and grandchildren decided to work with VLT, a committee of residents, and the Town of Newbury to help create the town forest. Ted and Deborah Leach, Tina Clark, Suzanne Charity, and Lucinda Leach, along with their late sister Robin’s children, Alexia Vondrak and Joshua Moody, sold the land to VLT for just over half of the appraised value. VLT held the land temporarily and the town took ownership of the 636-acre property this December.
Hunters, hikers, cross-country skiers, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and ATV riders all use the mountain. And, Newbury and Bradford students make yearly treks to the meadow summit, where they have celebrated International Day of Peace.
“So many people use the property in different ways—hiking, hunting, skiing in the moonlight,” said Tom Kidder, a member of the local committee that helped make the project possible. “From the time we moved here we’ve visited the forest. I remember bushwhacking up there with my six-month-old daughter on my back, surprising deer along the way. She’s 38 now. One time we camped up there with multiple families to see a meteor shower, and the meteors were overshadowed by the northern lights.”
The enthusiasm for the town forest was shown through more than 115 donations from local families and two town votes in favor of the project. “There is a lot of pride of ownership for the townspeople involved,” Tom reflected. “I was amazed at how many donations came in to support this project. It brings the town together.”
Town forests are a part of Vermont’s tradition of community ownership. Today, there are more than 67,000 acres of forestland owned by 172 municipalities around the state. There will be a celebration of the Tucker Mountain Town Forest this spring. Until then, community members and visitors should visit the Newbury Conservation Commission for access information.
See full press release here. And see a video on the history of the property made by Tom Kidder below:
Funded by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Town of Newbury, the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Vermont Land Trust Forest Fund, Davis Conservation Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, many community members, and the Open Space Institute’s Community Forest Fund, which supports the creation and expansion of community forests in Northern New England. (December 2018)