Two Norwich Forest Protection Projects

By Lynnwood Andrews and Craig Layne

The Norwich Conservation Commission has two forest protection efforts underway – one near Gile Mountain and the other along Lake Norford Road. Both areas are in contiguous forest classified by Vermont as prime for protection. We will be seeking public donations to secure these properties for permanent conservation this fall.

Woody Adams Conservation Forest

The Norwich Conservation Commission is working to acquire 186 acres of land (the Woody Adams Conservation Forest) located between the Norwich Town Forest and the Gile Tract, thereby protecting a 290 acre core section of a contiguous forest block centered on the Gile ridgeline, including the highest peak in Norwich.

We are partnering with the Upper Valley Land Trust in this forest conservation effort. The Upper Valley Land Trust has obtained site control, has secured a $125,000 grant, and is seeking the other funding required to facilitate purchase of the land. To match that grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Select Board approved use of $130,000 from the Land Conservation Designated Fund’s current balance as recommended by the Norwich Conservation Commission. To leverage that grant award and Upper Valley Land Trust investments, the Select Board also approved permanently protecting all three parcels under a single conservation easement granting development rights to co-grantees, Upper Valley Land Trust and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

The conservation benefits include: public access to trails and logging roads, backcountry Nordic and snow shoeing access , water quality, flood prevention, forest connectivity and wildlife corridors, climate change resiliency and mitigation, and sustainable forestry.

The Arnold Project

Nancy Arnold plans to donate to the Vermont Land Trust a conservation easement on 112 acres of her land west of Norford Lake Road. This property is part of the state of Vermont’s highest priority contiguous forest area in Norwich and it protects water quality because it includes a long segment of Avery Brook, a tributary of the Ompompanoosuc River. The land also serves as a wildlife corridor of particular value due to its calcium-rich bedrock that supports diverse plant life and its variety of land forms at mid to upper elevations. These include flat summit/ridge top, sideslope and flat at slope base as well as riparian, wetland and upland habitat.

Originally published in Fall 2020 Norwich Times