Camel’s Hump State Park is growing by more than 2,000 acres, The Trust for Public Land and State of Vermont announced Monday. The Trust for Public Land purchased 2,085 acres in Duxbury known as Dowsville Headwaters, expanding recreational trails, and protecting critical wildlife habitat and the headwaters of Dowsville Brook, an important tributary of the Mad River. The expansion of the State Park will benefit mountain bikers, hikers, backcountry skiers, snowmobilers, anglers, and hunters, while protecting watershed quality and improving flood retention.
“Camel’s Hump Sate Park is a popular destination and provides the four-season recreation that is such a critical economic driver in the Green Mountains. Protecting the Dowsville Headwaters will also enhance flood resiliency throughout the Winooski River Watershed and Lake Champlain Basin,” said Kate Wanner, project manager at The Trust for Public Land.
Visitors will now have new access to Camel’s Hump State Park from the Mad River Valley via Dowsville Road, Ward Hill Road, and Sharpshooter Road. The property’s seven miles of roads and single-track trails are frequented by recreational users from the Mad River Valley and beyond. Visitors are drawn to a waterfall on Dowsville Brook and a scenic cliff overlooking Beaver Meadows. Hunters and anglers, who’ve seen their access to land decreasing in recent years as new owners subdivide and post properties, will be attracted to the land’s abundance of deer, moose, turkey, and wild brook trout.
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.
“We are proud to become the stewards of this valuable forestland. Conserving this property in public ownership will maintain a large contiguous forest block in an otherwise developed area. We hope Vermonters will appreciate the benefits for generations to come,” said Commissioner of Forests, Parks & Recreation, Michael Snyder.
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 provide new opportunities for visitors to explore the woods beyond the Long Trail and the popular trails leading to the summit of Camel’s Hump.
The acquisition was made possible by a grant from the federal Forest Legacy program, as well as generous grants from the Lintilhac Foundation, Winthrop Smith Family Foundation, Mad River Valley Rotary, Eddy Foundation, Oakland Foundation, Cabot Creamery Cooperative and 38 individual donors.
U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) co-authored a letter in 2013 to the U.S. Forest Service in support of the project.
Senator Patrick Leahy was instrumental in the creation of the Forest Legacy program as part of the 1990 Farm Bill, as then-chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, and has continued to be a champion for the program. Senator Leahy said, “This acquisition is such an important addition to conserved lands around Camel’s Hump. With superb wildlife and water quality attributes and such a high popularity with outdoor enthusiasts, I am especially proud that The Forest Legacy Program will help Vermont to conserve it.”
“The Dowsville Headwaters Forest project is a historic opportunity to add thousands of acres to Camel’s Hump State Park, protect Vermont’s highest undeveloped peak, strengthen flood resiliency and enhance public recreation and timber production,” said Senator Sanders.
“Vermonters and tourists from all over the world have enjoyed Camel’s Hump State Park’s trails, waters, and woods for many years,” said U.S. Congressman Peter Welch. “Whether one is hiking, hunting, fishing, or biking, the additional 2,000 acres will be a wonderful addition for all who enjoy the beauty and adventure of Camel’s Hump; and it will ensure the safety and the protection of the park’s wildlife for decades to come.”
The public is invited to celebrate this exciting acquisition by joining The Trust for Public Land at a benefit bake at American Flatbread in Waitsfield on April 15. A portion of the proceeds from every flatbread sold will go towards the creation of a parking area on the property to improve public access.
Photo courtesy Vermont State Parks