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People Working Together in Three Community Forests in New England

Image Credit: Vermont Land Trust

NEW YORK — June 15, 2011 — A trio of community forests that run the gamut from a small, 94-acre parcel to a nearly 22,000-acre addition to an existing forest have all recently garnered support from OSI's Community Forest Fund.

In each case—the 94-acre Shea Town Forest in Corinth, VT; the 375-acre Millstone Hill Community Forest in Barre, VT; and the 21,700-acre West Grand Lake Community Forest in Grand Lake Stream, Maine—OSI grants have given area citizens a say in the future of their forests, which provide revenue while protecting natural resources and recreational opportunities for local communities.

"These projects all have elements of the old community forest model," said Peter Howell, OSI's executive vice president. "The act of conservation is building civic capacity in these towns. People are working together to conserve important places that have meant something, as gathering places and as places of work, to their communities."

The 94-acre Shea Forest has become the first community forest owned by the town of Corinth, Vermont after the landowner, Sue Shea, donated the property to the town in memory of her late husband, Frank. A grant from OSI's Community Forest Fund will ensure successful establishment of the community forest, by facilitating community meetings, development of a forest management plan and outreach to schools and civic groups.

The forest includes a network of hiking trails, a small brook, and is considered an excellent site for interior forest bird habitat. Local support for the project has been great, and with its high-quality timber, the forest will provide a new revenue stream for the town in years to come.

The Trust for Public Land and Millstone Trails Association are working to acquire 375 acres spread across 11 separate parcels to assemble the Millstone Hill Community Forest in Barre, VT. A start-up grant from OSI's fund will help the partners develop a plan to protect these former quarry lands now vital for maintaining regional water quality and important wildlife habitat.

The Millstone Forest contains 70 miles of extensive mountain biking and cross-country ski trails as well as productive forestland, which managed together can breathe new life into the regional economy.

A support grant from the Community Forest Fund will help the Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) complete its vision for a 370,000-acre forested region. The purchase of 21,700-acres of forestland will complement the 33,708-acre Farm Cove Community Forest—already managed by DLLT for wildlife habitat, nature-based recreation and sustainable forestry—and previously supported with an OSI Northern Forest Protection Fund grant.

OSI's grant will help the DLLT with project costs as they pull together this complex undertaking.

In addition to the environmental benefits of forestland protection, these projects will help New England communities maintain natural resource-based jobs in the forest products and outdoor recreation industries while providing a direct flow of revenue to the towns.

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