Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is extending the opportunity to provide public comments on a draft plan for a group of conserved lands in the Camel's Hump area of central Vermont. An additional public meeting has been scheduled for December 13 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, VT. Three meetings were previously held on the draft plan in November.
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources recently completed a draft long-range management plan for the Camel's Hump Management Unit, which includes Camel's Hump State Park, Camel's Hump State Forest, Robbins Mountain Wildlife Management Area, and Huntington Gap Wildlife Management Area. This plan will be presented and discussed at the Duxbury meeting.
Camel's Hump Management Unit comprises 26,000 acres and represents one of the largest tracts of unbroken forest in the state of Vermont, supporting a diverse range of wildlife and wild plant species. It is also a beloved piece of public land which hosts thousands of visitors a year who enjoy hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, biking, hunting, fishing, and more on its nearly 70 miles of trails.
Land management plans are drafted for all Agency of Natural Resources lands and reassessed periodically through a collaboration between agency staff and the public. These plans determine the agency's course of action to protect natural resources, provide recreational opportunities to the public, produce sustainably-harvested forest products, and conserve high-quality wildlife habitat on public land.
The draft plan would allow expansion of hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country ski trail networks, as well as the potential management of backcountry ski glades. At the same time, the plan restricts rock climbing in a small portion of the Natural Area to protect a unique community of cliff-dwelling plants, and identifies large portions of the Natural Area that would not be open to new trails or recreational uses.
In addition to recreation planning, the plan underscores the importance of sustainable forest management for multiple benefits including wildlife habitat enhancement, forest health, and support for Vermont's working landscape. Timber harvesting has long been part of the management plan for this area, and sustainable harvesting on less than one-third of the overall unit is also proposed in the new plan. The vast majority of this management will adhere to "uneven-aged management," which mimics naturally occurring disturbances like storms or insect damage and maintains species diversity and multiple age classes of trees. Not only will the proposed harvesting improve forest health and promote ecosystem resilience, but it will also support Vermont's forest economy and provide valuable forest products.
"We think the draft plan meets the needs of multiple user groups while still supporting the forest economy and maintaining the fragile natural resources that make this place so special," says Jason Nerenberg, District Stewardship Forester who leads the district's interdepartmental stewardship team.
The draft plan is available for review at goo.gl/PchBei. Written comments will be accepted up to close of business on January 15, 2018 and can be submitted electronically to ANR.CamelsHump@Vermont.gov or through the mail to the VT Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, 111 West Street, Essex Junction, VT 05452-4695.
Media Contact: Jason Nerenberg, District Stewardship Forester, Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, Agency of Natural Resources, (802) 498-4342