A New Town Forest for Richmond
The town of Richmond now has a 428-acre town forest where people can recreate and wildlife can thrive. The land was long part of the Andrews family’s Gray Rocks Farm. When the four Andrews siblings wanted to sell most of the land, they decided to work with VLT. One portion—located next to the striking red Monitor Barn visible from Interstate 89—was conserved as farmland and sold to Maple Wind Farm. Another portion became the new town forest.
“There’s a grove of hemlocks so tall that you feel like you’re in a cathedral,” said Guy Roberts of the Richmond Town Forest Steering Committee. “There’s great, interesting, diverse habitat.”
The importance of the forest goes beyond the town of Richmond. It is located within the broad swath of forest known as the Chittenden County Uplands—land that connects Camel’s Hump State Park to Mt. Mansfield State Forest. For more than 15 years, organizations, agencies, and volunteers have worked to protect over 10,000 acres of connected forest, much of which is open to recreation.
With the forest becoming a public resource, it was essential that the community determine how it would be used and managed. “The exciting thing has been the town involvement,” said Guy. The steering committee worked with VLT on a participation process that took into account wildlife and recreation. That meant gathering input from hunters, birders, local teachers, mountain bikers, skiers, seniors, wildlife enthusiasts, and others who cared about the land. The committee also hired a consultant to help develop a land management plan with public input. As a result, the town will have guiding principles to determine management and usage.
Since the town bought the land, volunteers have begun trail improvements and the public has been enjoying their new forest. “It’s so nice to have public lands where we can just get out and explore and express our natural curiosity,” remarked Guy.
Funded by the federal Community Forest Program, VHCB, the Conservation Alliance, the Richmond Conservation Reserve Fund, and the Open Space Institute’s Community Forest Fund, which supports the creation and expansion of community forests in northern New England. Community members also donated to the town’s land management fund.
This article appeared in our 2017-18 annual report. Story by Sky Barsch. Photos by Broudy/Donohue Photography.