Vermont to celebrate largest addition to wildlife management area in more than 15 years

(Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department photo)

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department recently added nearly 3,000 acres to Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Ira and Poultney, bringing the total publicly-conserved area to more than 3,600 acres. This is the largest addition to a Vermont wildlife management area in 15 years.

The wildlife management area includes the iconic Bird’s Eye Mountain, a well-known nesting site and habitat for peregrine falcons, as well as the surrounding lands.

A celebration will take place to commemorate the purchase on Saturday, May 6 from 1-5 p.m., starting at the Education Center at the Kehoe Green Mountain Conservation Camp in Castleton, Vt. The celebration will conclude with easy walks to tour the newly conserved property. The event includes light refreshments and is free and open to the public.

Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area is part of a larger connected area of 4,100 acres of conserved land that includes Blueberry Hill Wildlife Management Area and West Rutland town forest properties.

“Large connected habitat blocks, such as the ones at Bird Mountain, are essential for wildlife such as bears, songbirds, bobcats, and brook trout,” said Louis Porter, commissioner of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “These lands are popular with hunters, hikers, birdwatchers, and snowmobilers.”

Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching contribute $712 million to Vermont’s economy annually, according to a report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The land was purchased with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program and a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.  Additional funds were provided by The Conservation Fund, Green Mountain Power, the Lintilhac Foundation, the Vermont Wild Turkey Federation, donors to Fish & Wildlife Department’s Habitat Stamp Fund, and a large donation from the Vermont Community Foundation.  The project will not need additional public funding in the upcoming state budgets.

The Conservation Fund, a national conservation organization with an office in Vermont, initially purchased and held the property for three years while the partner organizations worked together to finalize the purchase.

The project received tremendous support from townspeople in Ira and Poultney. A series of Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) trails exist on the property that are popular for riders from all over the region.

Tom Coloutti is the vice present of the Poultney Valley Snowmobile Devils, the local VAST chapter with nearly 300 members. According to Coloutti, roughly a third of the club’s riders travel from out of state, providing a boost to the local economy in the winter when the riders patronize local businesses.

As part of the funding agreement with the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, a conservation easement was placed on the property. The easement is co-held by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Land Trust, the entities responsible for ensuring these protections are upheld. It reflects the approach the Fish & Wildlife Department takes towards stewarding this wildlife management area and recognizes the perpetual commitment made by all parties to the future health of this important piece of habitat.

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