Tucker Mountain as a Town Forest for Newbury?
Do You Know? The Town of Newbury has a now-or-never opportunity to acquire two parcels of 142 acres and 493 acres on both sides of Tucker Mountain Road, including the tops of Tucker and Woodchuck Mountains, from its current owners – members of the Leach family – at a steeply discounted price.
If the Town does not acquire the properties, they will be sold on the open market and future owners are not likely to allow, as the Leaches have, continued public access throughout the forestland and to the top of Tucker Mountain.
The Leach family has worked with the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) and offered to sell their properties to the Town at approximately 50% of fair market value. In addition, VLT has already been awarded grants totaling $190,000 and, with local help, has a plan to raise almost all the rest of the purchase price by January 2018. The Town of Newbury would need to chip in no more than $40,000.
Why Would the Town Want this Forest Land? 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 backcountry 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?