For those who weren’t here at the time and for those who have forgotten, it’s useful to stroll back down memory lane to understand how Warren Falls came to be owned by the United States Forest Service.
For several decades Warren Falls was owned by Ed Plenge, who did little to stop private use of Warren Falls by locals and visitors in the know – other than to post it.
In the mid-1990s the 79-acre parcel went on the market and access to it was closed off for the public. A complicated deal was negotiated that involved Sugarbush purchasing 57 acres of federally-owned lands near the base of Lincoln Peak for 213 on-mountain acres plus another 58 acres near Lincoln Gap. Those parcels became part of the Green Mountain National Forest. The parking lot acres had greater value than the mountain acres so Sugarbush had to pay the difference between the appraised values of the parcels.
The USFS conducted an appraisal of the property and it came in $60,000 under the price that Plenge sought. The forest service could not pay more for the property than its appraisal. Some of the money that Sugarbush paid was used toward the purchase of Warren Falls and the rest was raised locally.
Friends of the Mad River and the Mad River Valley Recreation District, working with the Conservation Fund, launched a campaign encouraging donations of $10 from all.
It was enormously successful, raising the $60,000 needed to bridge the gap and led to the conservation of Warren Falls. The sale closed in December 1997. Things continued as they had been for many years until Warren Falls was discovered by a few internet-based tourism sites and it was listed repeatedly as one of the best swim holes in the nation. The rest is history. The beautiful swim hole draws visitors by the hundreds and thousands who want to experience its splendor. And who can blame them? It is stunning.
And we’re going to have to work on the parking, some public transportation options and work with VTrans on lowering the speed limit through that area as well as other measures to keep things safe.