Funding approved for conservation of 11,600 acres of Vermont forest; Groton Forest Legacy Initiative and Windham Region Working Forest project will contribute to timber, forest-based industries, protect wildlife habitat, water quality

WASHINGTON , July 11, 2014 (press release) – Senator Patrick Leahy has announced funding for two Vermont Forest Legacy projects that will conserve critical forestlands in the Groton Forest Legacy Initiative and Windham Region Working Forest.

The two projects when completed will total more than 11,600 acres of conserved forestland in Vermont that will permanently protect wildlife habitat linkages and wildlife corridors. These projects also preserve public access, including hiking, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing and designated trails for snowmobiles.

Leahy, who authored the program earlier when he chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said: “This is a strong investment in our state’s traditions of outdoor recreation, conservation and a vital working lands economy. Both of these projects contribute to our state’s timber and forest-based manufacturing industries, while conserving wildlife habitat and protecting water quality. I am proud that Vermonters of today and the future will benefit from these hiking, hunting, fishing and educational opportunities.”

Gil Livingston, president of the Vermont Land Trust, said: "The Groton Forest Legacy project will protect spectacular land important to Vermonters. Beautiful Molly's Falls Pond will be owned by the public forever. Equally important, private citizens have banded together to protect land that enhances near-by Groton State Forest. Senator Leahy's leadership in supporting the federal Forest Legacy program was instrumental in this success."

Chris Campany, executive director of the Windham Regional Commission, said: “This collaborative effort will result in the perpetual conservation of working forest for the benefit of one of the region's largest industries -- the forest industry -- and those it employs, for the public that will have access to this land, and for wildlife as further habitat fragmentation will be reduced. It's a win, win, win situation. Thanks to The Conservation Fund, participating landowners, and everyone who worked together to make this possible.”

The Forest Legacy Program, first authored by Leahy in the 1990 Farm Bill, has provided more than $643 million to conserve 2,394,447 million acres in 45 states over the past two decades. Leahy today is the most senior member of the committee.

The Forest Legacy Program has contributed more than $22.945 million to conserve 80,316 acres 65 tracts in 16 projects in Vermont since 1993.

The Forest Legacy Program is a partnership between states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to identify and help conserve environmentally important forests from conversion to non-forest uses, while maintaining private ownership. Using conservation easements, the federal government may fund up to 75 percent of program costs, with at least 25 percent coming from private, state or local sources. For more information, visit http://www.vtfpr.org.

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