Nordic and backcountry skiers in Vermont will soon regain access to a large amount of land that was off limits this season and the original 100 km of Nordic and backcountry-designated trails. The Vermont Land Trust has entered into a contract to buy 1,161 acres of terrain that host such trails from Bolton Valley. The land was closed off because of a potential private sale. All-Access pass holders will now be able to access the trails as well.
The terrain is in the middle of the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Project (CCUCP) area, a place that has been the focus for forestland and habitat protection for over a decade.
“This is great news for our Nordic friends as we will gain all the terrain back that we weren’t able to access this year,” said George Potter, president of Bolton Valley. “A small group of individuals expressed their concern regarding that potential private sale of the land, which ultimately didn’t occur. These people were the inspiration and the force behind preserving this land for backcountry and Nordic use so it’s exciting to see what passionate people can accomplish!”
The Vermont Land Trust and the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry (FOBVNB) teamed up to raise money for the big purchase and have kicked off a capital campaign for the cause. Over the next 15 months, they will work to pay off the debt to protect the land and keep it open and available for public use.
“Our next steps include broadening our base of supporters, engaging the Town of Bolton in our efforts, and raising just over a million dollars by May 2013,” said Ann Gotham, coordinator of the FOBVNB. “Yes, it is a tall order, but we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve this incredible land.”
The land itself is host to some of New England’s best backcountry terrain. At a 2,100-foot base elevation, the Bolton Valley Nordic Center is the highest of any Nordic center in Vermont. With high elevation comes snow, something Bolton Valley gets early and keeps late into the season.
With a hefty price tag of $1,850,000, the Vermont Land Trust and the FOBVNB have a big job ahead of them. If the money is not raised in time, the threat of private ownership and development hangs heavy in the back of everyone’s minds. If the land is developed, dozens of homes could be built over the one-time ski area. Due to statewide significance, the Land Trust is expected to explore the possibility of getting a considerable public grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
Currently, the Vermont Land Trust is only meeting with potential donors of $5,000 or more but will seek gifts of any size after their initial goal is reached.
Bolton Valley is less than 10 minutes from I-89 and less than 30 minutes from Burlington. It’s a convenient and affordable option for families and skiers and riders with any skill level. Snowshoers can also enjoy the slopes; 26 kilometers of machine-tracked trails are open for classic and skate skiing and snowshoeing. The Catamount Trail runs through the property and connects to other popular backcountry routes including Trapp Family Lodge, Mt. Mansfield State Forest, Underhill State Park, and Little River State Park.