Tucker Mountain and the forestland around it has been a popular place for residents of Newbury for a long time. The open meadow top of Tucker Mountain provides long distance views in almost all directions and has been the destination for an annual visit by Newbury Elementary School students and teachers for many years. The two properties’ 635 acres offer recreational opportunities such as hunting, picnicking, hiking, bird-watching, snowshoeing, and back country skiing. Several schools attended by Newbury boys and girls would have an outstanding natural laboratory for learning about plants, wildlife, water resources, and forest management. The land is threaded by headwaters streams and the West Branch of the Halls Brook, with its excellent brook trout habitat. Wetlands, vernal pools with frogs and salamanders, many types of plants and wildlife – all help make the proposed Tucker Mountain-Newbury Town Forest one of Newbury’s most important tracts of land.
- Tucker Mountain has long been a popular recreational destination for residents of and visitors to Newbury. All students from Newbury Elementary School make an annual trip to the top of Tucker Mountain.
- Town ownership, with a supportive Conservation Commission and “Friends” group to help manage the property, would provide permanent public access for diverse recreational and educational activities, and present an opportunity for improved access, management, and stewardship of the properties’ natural resources – while also generating revenue from timber harvesting, firewood, and sugaring.
- Public recreation and scenic views
- Productive timber land and sugar bush
- Water resources and aquatic habitat: West Branch of Halls Brook and tributaries, two vernal pools, and Meadow Brook
- Wetlands and natural communities: beaver pond wetland complex, Red Spruce-Cinnamon Fern Swamp, and Red Maple –Black Ash Seepage Swamp, among others
- Newbury Elementary School trips and special projects?
- Oxbow High School/River Bend Career & Technical Center trips & projects?
Next Steps (9/27/2017):
If you have not yet heard, the Tucker Mt. Article was passed at last night’s Special Town Meeting – so now the work begins. The next step is to put together a management team. If you are interested and want to get involved, or know someone who would be willing to work on a management team, please let us know. The Newbury Selectboard will pick and organize the team. In the meantime, we are trying to help by submitting the names of people interested in working on this effort.
If interested in participating, or want you more information on this process, contact the Selectboard at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact me and I will forward your name to them.
Once organized, the management team will work on a “Draft Management Plan”. This plan will be a rough draft that is due by 12/1/2017 and will keep evolving over the next year until it becomes in its final state Newbury’s Tucker Mt. Town Forest Management Plan.
It is important to remember that this Management Plan will be a “living document” that can grow and change over time as Newbury wishes, but it will be tied to, and based on, the language in the conservation easement held by the Vermont Land Trust and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
Simply put, the conservation easement is a document that is tied to the land forever, and spells out what can and cannot happen on the land. This document dictates in what condition the land will be kept and the uses therein. It will be written by Vermont Land Trust with input from the Selectboard (with help from this management team) and become effective at the time of the closing on the property.
The management plan directs how the property is managed. It will include things like timber harvesting (where, when, and how), trails for recreation and what type (foot paths for hikers, trails that can hold up to snowmobile and ATV’s, equestrian paths, etc.). How these trails will be built and used, when will they be used (closed during mud-season for example), and the timeframe for upkeep will be included. Since wildlife habitat, forest diversity, and timber harvesting can often become at odds with each other, the management principals and guidelines will be spelled out in this plan.
Important attributes of the management team members to consider will include, but not be limited to,
- The ability to make the necessary time commitment to complete this task. The first draft is due December 1st and it will be important to have folks willing to make time in their schedule to see the process through. The management team will change over time, but in the beginning it will be important to have continuity throughout the first year.
- A large amount of reading and research will be necessary. There will be lots of documents to go through including – researching and comparisons of management plans from other towns to collect ideas, perusal of forest inventory reports (we have to know what is there before we know how to manage), and the team participants must become thoroughly knowledgeable of the conservation easement as this will be one of the base-lines documents.
- Management team members must possess the ability to collaborate with others. A good management team will have a diverse cross section of interest from Newbury residents. One of the first steps is to “agree to disagree” as not everyone gets all that they want from this type of process. It will be important to listen to what others offer, as well as to express your own ideas in a non-confrontational way.
- As has been stated, and the people of Newbury have made clear, ways to fund Tucker Mt. improvements without adding to the tax base must be pinpointed and secured. Fundraising, grants, events, and out of the box thinking will be necessary. This will be on going and take a lot of work.
Thank you for your support; let’s all work together to make this work for Newbury. If you have questions or want more information, contact: Michael Thomas, Chair of the Newbury Conservation Commission at 802-757-3960 or by email at email@example.com
Please take a very quick survey here to express your views about current and potential trail use: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3DT6J9N
Reports & Documents: