BOLTON — An effort by two groups has raised nearly all of the $1.85 million needed to protect a tract of land that is popular with skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
The Vermont Land Trust and a grassroots group have until March 31 to raise the money to secure the 1,161 acres, home to the Bolton Valley nordic and backcountry ski trails. The land trust hopes to turn the property over to the state to own and manage.
The land has been used for decades by everyone from cross-country skiers to hunters and birdwatchers. It connects Mount Mansfield State Forest and Camel’s Hump State Park.
All but $350,000 has been raised through donations or pledges, said the land trust’s vice president for community relations, Elise Annes, on Wednesday. The price is $1.6 million to buy the property from the private owner, Catamount/Bolton Land, LLC. Payments have already been made, because the trust has the property under contract, she said.
In February 2011, the public learned that the owner planned to sell the majority of the land to a private buyer, but a community outcry ensued, preventing that deal.
A grassroots group, Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry, drew in the land trust’s involvement. The trust then secured an $800,000 grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
An anonymous donor gave $100,000 last month, and advertising began two weeks ago to finish the campaign, Annes said. Another anonymous donor pledged up to $100,000 in matching money, she said.
The total amount being raised, $1.85 million, will also cover legal, mapping and interest costs, Annes said.
The land is surrounded by 8,000 acres that is secured by the trust and other partners.
The proceeds from an event Friday in Burlington will go toward the fundraising. A fashion show will start at 8 p.m. at Outdoor Gear Exchange on Church Street, with the doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance through gearx.com and $25 at the door.
In Montpelier, a screening of the movie “Superheroes of Stoke” on Nov. 30 will also raise money through admission and raffle ticket sales. The raffle is for a $1,000 shopping spree at Onion River Sports. The event will be at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Chapel, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the film at 7:30. Tickets are $15.
In early December, Onion River Sports will host a presentation about the project at the store.
The trust estimates 10,000 or more people use the Bolton parcel each year. The Catamount Trail, a cross-country ski route, runs through it. A portion of the Long Trail runs near the property.
The area has more than 90 kilometers of groomed and backcountry ski trails.
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