Nearly 3,000 acres of Forestland protected in the Town of Westmore

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WESTMORE — Last week the Vermont Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy announced that 2,965 acres of forestland surrounding Long Pond, in an area designated as a National Natural Landmark, was conserved. The property is owned by Vincent and Louisa Dotoli.

This parcel has more than a mile of undeveloped frontage on 90-acre Long Pond and the entirety of 13-acre Mud Pond, along with popular hiking trails to Bald Mountain, Mount Pisgah, and Haystack Mountain.

“In these times when the health of our forests is threatened, we are delighted by the opportunity to protect the Dotolis’ land,” said Gil Livingston, president of the Vermont Land Trust. “Conserving this spectacular forest will protect water quality, and ensure sustainable forest management, wildlife habitat connectivity and public access to an important trail network.”

The property includes more than eight miles of frontage on 22 streams that form the headwaters of the Willoughby, Passumpsic, and Clyde Rivers, all located within the international Memphremagog watershed.

The property will become a part of a protected block of land that now totals more than 15,000 acres, making it well suited for migrating large mammals.

“The interconnectedness of our forests is essential for wildlife to meet their life needs,” said Heather Furman, Vermont State Director of The Nature Conservancy. “TNC’s science identifies critical wildlife corridors like the ones found on the Dotoli parcel, used by moose, bear, otter, fisher cat and lynx. This conservation success celebrates intact forests and their multiple benefits such as improved water and air quality, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat protection.”

The Dotolis have owned the land since the late 1980s. As a result of their excellent stewardship, the property has a good network of logging roads and forestry-access trails. With the conservation easement in place, the Dotolis will continue to own and manage the property.

Conservation ensures that the land will not be subdivided into small parcels or developed, pressures that are contributing to a decline in Vermont forests for the first time in a century. This forestland forms scenic backdrop from many vantage points around Willoughby Lake and Long Pond.

The Dotolis have allowed hiking trails that both originate on, and pass through, their property. These trails provide access to popular peaks including Bald Mountain, Haystack Mountain, and Mt. Pisgah, the summit of which is located in Willoughby State Forest. The conservation easement ensures public access in perpetuity, along with formal management and protection for these trails.

“This is an incredible opportunity to conserve a part of one of Vermont’s most scenic mountain environments,” said Luke O’Brien, development and trails director at NorthWoods Stewardship Center in Charleston. “The Dotolis have been excellent land stewards and this project ensures that these mountains and trails are conserved in perpetuity.”

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