Dorset Forest set to expand

DORSET - The Dorset Forest may soon be expanded. In a plan first discussed in November last year, the town presented a way to purchase a parcel of land to protect and expand the town forest.

The 200-acre parcel is next to the current 40-acre town forest on Owl's Head.

Owl's Head is a dome shaped rise 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.

During the meeting held in November, the town was receptive and supportive of the plan to expand the town forest. In an interview in November, Gaiotti said there is a deep connection for many residents to the land in question and many are very familiar with the property.

Rob Gaiotti, town manager in Dorset, said the town has received two grants to help fund the project.

"We have some of the money ... one grant from the USDA, the United States Department of Agriculture and the other from the Vermont Conservation and Housing board," he said. "It's $400,000 all together."

The money from the USDA comes from the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Dorset received $236,500 from this program to be used towards the purchase of the land.

"This support from the community Forest Program will help to stave off development pressures for this valued forest land, which is home to rare and endangered plant communities, as well as multiple quarries with many sights where buildings and operations for the Gettysburg Quarry were located," Leahy said in a press release. "All significant physical examples of Dorset's strong historic ties to the marble industry that will be preserved because of this conversation and through support from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board."

While $400,000 has been secured, Gaiotti said there are still additional funds needed to purchase the land. The exact cost of the parcel cannot be disclosed, due to the purchase and sale agreement in place. Gaiotti could say that the exact price has yet to be determined, because the whole parcel has yet to all be surveyed.

To help come up with the rest of the funds needed to purchase the land, Gaiotti said the town will work on a fundraising campaign. The conservation committee will be the group spearheading the campaign and are currently working on forming a committee, he said.

"We're going to work on other types of outreach to round out [the amount needed]," he said.


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