Sugarbush president Win Smith has challenged the Mad River Valley to match a grant of $10,000 to raise the final funds needed to complete the conservation of the 2,085-acre Dowsville Headwaters. The land will be added to Camel’s Hump State Park.
Three years in the making, the state and the Trust for Public Land are working to complete the conservation project which will protect critical wildlife habitat, recreational trails and the headwaters of Dowsville Brook, an important tributary of the Mad River. The expansion of the state park will mean greater access for mountain bikers, hikers, backcountry skiers, snowmobilers and hunters, not to mention benefits to wildlife, watershed quality and flood retention.
The Trust for Public Land has secured all but $10,000 of the $2.4 million cost of the acquisition. Funding sources include the federal Forest Legacy program, private foundations and donations from individuals in the Mad River Valley. Recently, the Winthrop Smith Family Foundation granted a leadership gift of $10,000 to the Trust for Public Land with a challenge to individuals and businesses in The Valley to match his gift to clinch the final $10,000 needed by March 31.
“My family and I have long appreciated this special part of Vermont,” said Win Smith, owner and president of Sugarbush Resort. “Preserving our land and creating opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities is something we have been keen to support.”
Conservation of the Dowsville Headwaters property will guarantee public access for four-season recreation and provide new access to Camel's Hump State Park from the Mad River Valley. Accessed by Dowsville Road, Ward Hill Road and Sharpshooter Road, the property’s seven miles of roads and singletrack trails are frequented by hikers, cross-country and backcountry skiers, mountain bikers, equestrians and snowmobilers. Visitors are drawn to a waterfall on Dowsville Brook and a scenic cliff overlooking Beaver Meadows. Hunters and fishermen will have greater access to the land’s abundance of deer, moose, turkey and wild brook trout.
“These types of recreation opportunities are essential to the high quality of life in The Valley and the economic sustainability of our Valley businesses,” said Kate Wanner of the Trust for Public Lands.
This addition to Camel’s Hump State Park encompasses significant forest and water resources, which provide habitat for black bear, moose, bobcat, woodcock, ruffed grouse, native brook trout and Bicknell’s thrush, a species of global conservation concern. At the landscape level, conservation of the property adds to a 27,300-acre swath of protected forestland along the Green Mountains. As part of a mountain range and block of protected land that is oriented north-to-south, protecting the property will help ensure long-term wildlife connectivity across elevational gradients, allowing the region’s wildlife and vegetation to adapt to a changing climate. Protection of 8.2 miles of headwater streams and 142 acres of riparian areas will also improve water quality and enhance flood resiliency in the Mad River Watershed, Winooski River Watershed and Lake Champlain Basin, Wanner said.
“Protection of the Dowsville Headwaters property will also help maintain the rural character of the Mad River Valley and protect scenic views from Camel’s Hump and the Mad River Byway. The addition of the property to Camel’s Hump State Park will support tourism by benefiting the local community while also providing new opportunities for visitors to explore the woods beyond the Long Trail and the popular trails leading to the summit of Camel’s Hump,” Wanner said.
Donations to help close the project can be sent to the Trust for Public Land, 3 Shipman Place, Montpelier, VT 05602. Please specify Dowsville Headwaters. Or gifts can be made online at www.tpl.org/donate/vt.