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The Waitsfield Conservation Commission is developing a management plan for the 139-acre town-owned Wu Ledges Forest and the adjacent Austin property located south of Waitsfield Village within walking distance of Bridge Street.
A public forum will be held on Thursday, December 12, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Waitsfield Elementary School. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and light refreshments will be provided. The forum will include a virtual tour of these properties and offer an opportunity for public input on their use and management.
The main parcel of Wu Ledges Forest was donated to the town in 2004 and is now a destination for hiking, mountain biking and outdoor learning. In addition to being open to the public, Wu Ledges' forests, cliffs, wetlands and river shores are habitat for a diversity of birds, other wildlife and native plants. There is a history of logging on the property, which is also a potential source of income and local wood products for the town and community.
The smaller Austin parcel is located on the west side of the Mad River, just downstream of the town's Lareau Swim Hole parcel. The Austin property includes important frontage and riparian habitat along both the main stem of the Mad River and Mill Brook, a modest-size hayfield and a short walking trail loop that is part of the Mad River Path network.
In order to best plan for the future of these assets, the Waitsfield Conservation Commission wants to hear from Waitsfield and Valley residents as well as visitors about their values and ideas for these properties. A survey has been developed to gather public input and can be taken online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/wuledges or by completing a paper copy. Paper copies of the survey are available at the Waitsfield town office, Joslin Memorial Library, Village Grocery, Three Mountain Café, Moretown General Store, and The Warren Store. The deadline for completing the survey is December 20.