Stowe’s Cady Hill Forest – Partnership Profile
Since the 1990's, the private lands comprising what is now Cady Hill Forest had long been identified as one of the highest priority areas for conservation in the town of Stowe. The combination of wildlife habitat, scenic viewshed and recreation trails within walking distance of Stowe Village has made this area immensely popular with the community for its ease of accessibility and wilderness-like experience.
In early 2011, Stowe Land Trust (SLT) was approached by the landowners of the property to discuss conservation of the 258-acre forestland adjacent to an existing 60-acre town forest. However, the landowners, who had a private development proposal, required that SLT complete the acquisition in just one year. This challenge would require an enormous amount of effort by the town, SLT and the citizens of Stowe. In order to complete the acquisition, they would have to negotiate a purchase agreement, secure partners for funding, obtain Development Review Board approval, apply for an Act 250 permit, prepare a conservation easement and perform other due diligence. Additionally, agreements and plans for the future ownership, development and stewardship needed to be developed and executed. All of this was completed and the property was conserved on May 30, 2012.
The southwestern portion of Cady Hill Forest is dominated by Hemlock and is recognized by the VT Fish & Wildlife Department as state designated deer wintering area. To the north and east the forest cover is predominantly White Pine, Red Maple and Sugar Maple and Northern Hardwood Forest with Red Maple, Sugar Maple, hemlock and Yellow Birch. The property contains approximately 23 acres of Class II wetland. Although privately owned, an 11-mile system of trails existed that were used for mountain biking and hiking.
Following acquisition by SLT, the ownership of Cady Hill Forest was turned over to the Town of Stowe. and theThe Stowe Conservation Commission is responsible for the primary stewardship of the property consistent with the Conservation Easement held by SLT and VHCBthe Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB). The Conservation Commission created a management plan for the property which includedand the Town of Stowe has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Stowe Mountain Bike Club designating the club as the trail corridor manager for the trails on the property suitable for mountain biking.
The conservation of Cady Hill Forest represents a very successful partnership in the acquisition and management of a highly regarded tract of land in the center of the community which was at risk for development. Four years after conservation, in 2016, Cady Hill Forest continues to be an extremely popular destination for mountain bikers, hikers and natural nature enthusiasts. What has become evident is the remarkable cooperative relationship that exists between the conservation easement holders (SLT and VHCB), the Stowe Conservation Commission and the Stowe Mountain Bike Club.
Town of Stowe - Stowe Conservation Commission
Stowe Land Trust
Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
Stowe Mountain Bike Club
This project could not have been accomplished without the efforts of an engaged and informed community and town government, a respected Land Trust local land trust and an enthusiastic group of volunteer resource users.
Stowe Land Trust was the driving force behind the conservation of Cady Hill Forest. SLT negotiated the purchase agreement, secured grants from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board VHCB ($350,000) and the Open Space Institute ($100,000) and a spearheaded a commitment from the voters of Stowe for $288,000. SLT then launched its most ambitious campaign ever to raise the remaining funds necessary to complete the $1,558,000 transaction, securing donations from over 550 individuals, private foundations and businesses.
A critical component of the project was to raise awareness of the project and secure donations from the community in a very tight timeframe (roughly one year). The education and outreach program and fund raising was successful with the very last donations coming in just days before the purchase agreement was set to expire. Cady Hill Forest is now conserved for mountain biking and cross-country skiing, hiking, wildlife habitat, timber and other uses, without fear of development.