DORSET - A public hearing will be held at the Dorset Town Offices on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss a plan to expand the town forest. Town Manager Rob Gaiotti said this is a project that began a few years ago with the creation of the town plan.

That plan, he said, put emphasis on protecting public access to recreation, historical sites and protecting natural resources.

"Right now, the town forest is 40 acres on Owl's Head...[the town doesn't have] protected or preserved public access right now [to the land]," he said. Owl's Head is a dome-shaped rise to the north of The Dorset School and east of Route 30 south of the main village of Dorset. It can be reached via Owl's Head Hill Lane, a dirt road off of Route 30 a short distance north of Morse Hill Road.

To preserve the access and make the forest management more sustainable, Gaiotti said the town wants to purchase a 200-acre parcel of land that will give permanent access to the current town forest. Adding this parcel will make the area more of a traditional community forest. One of the key landmarks of the parcel is the Gettysburg Quarry, an industrial marble quarry that operated in the 1800s and is a historic location in the area, Gaiotti said.

Gaiotti, members of the select board and members of the town's conservation committee will give a presentation outlining the project, what it entails and the size and scope of the property.

"We will present the information and take public comments from residents to see if...they are for or against the project, or to answer any questions," he said.

To help pay for the land, the town would apply for a United States Forest Service Community Forest Grant.

This grant would help cover 50 percent of the purchase price, he said.

"This would be the biggest asset used to purchase the land, along with additional grants, as well as town funds or fundraising," Gaiotti said.

The parcel is currently being appraised professionally, so the town does not yet know how much it would cost to purchase, he said.

More information and a map of the property can be picked up at the Dorset town office or can be seen online at dorsetvt.org.