Averill, Avery’s Gore, Bloomfield, Brighton, Brunswick, Burke, East Haven, Ferdinand, Granby, Lemington, Lewis, Maidstone, Morgan, Victory; Caledonia and Essex Counties 106,500 Acres – 22,500 fee acres and 84,000 easement acres
This Management Unit is comprised of the following units:
- West Mountain Wildlife Management Area
- Public Access on Private Timber Lands owned by Weyerhaeuser
- The Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge
In 1998, Champion International sold 132,000 acres of land in northeastern Vermont. Through a complex partnership, these lands were divided into three parcels. The most ecologically significant areas became public lands, while the largest areas continued as private working forest:
- The State of Vermont acquired 22,000 acres for the West Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service acquired 26,000 acres for the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge.
- Essex Timber Company acquired 84,000 acres for working forestry, with easements protecting certain natural resources and guaranteeing perpetual public access. This land was subsequently purchased by the Plum Creek Timber Company and again purchased by Weyerhaeuser.
(LRMP executive summary, 2014)
In 2013, the former Champion lands were renamed Kingdom Heritage Lands and encompasses the West Mountain Wildlife Management Area and the public access easement on the private timber lands currently owned by Weyerhaeuser.
Management of Rock Climbing
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) is working with the Kingdom Heritage Lands timberland owners and easement holders to manage rock climbing in cooperation with the Climbing Resource Access Group (CRAG Vermont | Serving the Vermont Climbing Community). CRAG-VT has developed a draft proposal for managing use on the Kingdom Heritage Lands, specifically at Black Mountain in Averill.
In just the last five years, Black Mountain has become recognized as some of the best climbing terrain in Vermont and, despite its remote location, is receiving increasing use. Presently, there are over 60 mapped climbing routes on the Black Mountain cliffs and new routes are being developed each summer. As with other focused, corridor-based recreation activities, ANR is looking to engage a corridor manager to take on the management responsibilities of this activity. Presently, CRAG-VT has an existing Memorandum of Agreement with ANR to manage both rock and ice climbing to state lands, so their involvement is an obvious fit.
Similar to VAST, the Green Mountain Club, and Vermont Horse Council, CRAG-VT has drafted a corridor management proposal and is working with ANR to gain corridor manager status. An online public meeting was held on Thursday, May 5, 2022, to share the proposal, answer questions, and solicit comments. A responsiveness summary crafted from this meeting can be reviewed here.
A copy of the CRAG-VT corridor management proposal can be reviewed here as well as a copy of the presentation from the May 5th meeting. There will be a 30-day comment period for this proposal. Following the comment period, an update to the CRAG-VT proposal may be made based on public and partner feedback. The Public Access Plan for Private Timber Lands will be amended to accommodate the corridor management, and the Corridor Manager Agreement will be prepared.
Comments may be made by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by US Mail to the VT Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation at 374 Emerson Falls Road, Suite 4, St. Johnsbury VT 05819. The deadline for receiving comments is June 6, 2022.
For more information, please contact Luke O’Brien, Forest Recreation Specialist, at email@example.com or 802-622-4258.
Planning Overview: The original management plan for the former Champion lands - West Mountain Wildlife Management Area and the public access easement on the private timber lands - was completed in 2002. An update of the plan was scheduled in 2012; the completed updated plan was signed on September 26, 2014. The Kingdom Heritage Lands partners worked together to prepare this document. Kingdom Heritage Lands partners are the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (Departments of Fish & Wildlife and Forests, Parks and Recreation), Weyerhaeuser, The Nature Conservancy Vermont Chapter, Vermont Land Trust, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
- West Mountain Wildlife Management Area Long Range Management Plan
- Public Access Plan for Private Timber Lands
Below are the draft Corridor Manager Proposals:
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been working on the management plan for the portion of the former Champion lands in federal ownership and known as the Nulhegan Basin Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Check road conditions on the Kingdom Heritage lands: