Over 1,900 acres of forestland in Newark conserved for wildlife, clean water and working lands
“Hawk Rock, Walker Mountain, and Packer Mountain — these three peaks form a majestic vista to the north, from Newark,” says VLT’s Kerry O’Brien. The mountain trio is also visible from the west side of Route 114, between Newark and Island Pond in Vermont’s Caledonia County.
One can see a series of dramatic granite cliffs and ledges forming Hawk Rock (1,800 feet), wrapping around the southern side of Walker Mountain (1,900 feet), and scattered west of Packer Mountain (2,100 feet). Below the cliffs are areas with mid-sized boulders, some up to 20 feet high.
These cliff areas have abundant wildlife habitat. Above the cliffs are densely wooded areas with Yellow Birch and Red Spruce trees, a special forest type that’s rare in Vermont. There are also cedar swamps, wetlands, and vernal pools. Hawk Rock, in particular, is documented breeding habitat for the Peregrine Falcon. The bird was once in serious decline but is being successfully reintroduced in Vermont.
Conservation supports wildlife, clean water, and maple operation
In April 2023 we helped conserve a 1,961-acre parcel that spans these three mountains. The land has vast tracts of hardwood forest. Several streams, including over a mile of frontage along the East Branch Passumpsic River and its tributaries, flow across the property.
We worked with Hawk Rock Holdings LLC, the parcel’s owner, who donated conservation protections on the land for the benefit of wildlife habitat, clean water, and the local economy. Three Peaks Maple, which started operations in 2017, has a 40,000+ tap maple sugarbush here.
The effort has resulted in a 2,700+ acre block of protected forestland in Newark. It has also linked the forests of the Kingdom Heritage Lands in East Haven to the Willoughby State Forest. Connected forests provide safe spaces for wildlife to move through across their life spans.
“This is a really important project for the community,” said Kerry. “Large blocks of productive forestland with unique wildlife habitats and majestic views are crucial to protect, and this project checks all the boxes.”
Protecting large swaths of forest is also important in a changing climate. The land will be managed sustainably to protect the forest, wildlife habitat, water, and soil.
Hawk Rock Holdings LLC looks forward to continuing sustainable sugaring, with an emphasis on the conservation of natural resources, and protecting traditional hunting culture in the Northeast Kingdom.