Community regains access to Strobridge Recreation Area
The Pownal community will once again be able to explore and enjoy their town forest, which has grown by nearly 300 acres. Located on the eastern flank of the Taconic Mountains, the Strobridge Recreation Area is highly visible from Vermont Route 7 and the town office.
The scenic property, established in 2002, has been inaccessible since 2011. That was when tropical storm Irene washed away a woods road that was the only legal access to the parcel.
In September 2023, the town of Pownal bought 296 acres in Halifax Hollow that includes a trail easement from Dean Road. The new addition fills out the original 735-acre jigsaw-piece shaped town forest. Trail development to restore access is planned for 2024.
With access secured, people will be able to enjoy hiking, birding, mountain biking, snow-shoeing, and more on the land.
Expanding recreation possibilities at Strobridge Recreation Area
While trail development in 2024 will enable the community to once again enjoy their town forest, the town plans to do more.
In fall 2023, the town plans to acquire an adjacent four-acre parcel to provide a parking area with a kiosk, and a multi-purpose woods road to the forest. And over the next year, they will invite public input on a management plan for the expanded recreation area. Future possibilities include new trails, a gazebo for educational use and rustic shelters for recreation.
The town intends to fund these access improvements through the state’s Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) Community Grant Program.
Partnership between town, state, and conservation organizations
We collaborated with the Town of Pownal, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) to help expand the town forest and regain access — so the land is available for all to enjoy. With the help of grant funding, the town conserved the new land with us.
VLT’s Donald Campbell worked closely on the project, building on his work with the town when the town forest was created. The town established the Strobridge Recreation Area over 20 years ago, when we helped them buy land formerly owned by the Pownal Tanning Company and conserve it. The entire 1,000+ acre town forest is therefore protected.
“It’s gratifying to see this Pownal dream become a reality,” Donald said. “The community will finally have good access to an expanded town forest that will boost biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and flood resilience in the Taconic Mountains.”
The Pownal town forest is adjacent to over 5,000 acres of privately owned conserved forestland along the Taconic Mountain Range in New York and Massachusetts.
It also abuts New York’s 3,000+ acre Taconic Ridge State Forest, which is home to the 37-mile Taconic Crest trail along the New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts border. The expanded Strobridge Area will make possible the first Vermont access to the popular trail.
A special place in the Taconic Mountains: home to wildlife and streams
The new addition to the Pownal town forest has a network of logging roads, well-managed timber, an important tributary of the Hoosic River, and uncommon ecological features.
The land is traversed by nearly two miles of a coldwater tributary of the Hoosic River, which flows into the Hudson River. Both the stream and the Hoosic are known to be brook trout habitat. Located on a north-facing slope, the stream provides habitat for species that need consistently cold water to survive – such as native eastern brook trout, wood turtles, and many salamanders. This will be helpful as the climate changes.
All streams on the land, including this tributary, have special clean-water protections under the conservation easement. The land also has areas of Dry Oak Forest and Dry Oak-Hickory-Hophornbeam Forest that have special ecological protections under the easement.