Over 1,900 acres of forested land including Walker Mountain, Packer Mountain and Hawk Rock have been permanently protected, the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) announced today. The land trust worked with Hawk Rock Holdings LLC, the parcel’s owner, who donated conservation protections on the land for the benefit of wildlife habitat, clean water, and the local economy. The effort has resulted in a 2,700+ acre block of protected forestland in Newark.
Hawk Rock, Walker Mountain and Packer Mountain can be seen on the west side of Route 114 in Newark, where the parcel is located. The land supports a 40,000+ tap maple sugarbush for Three Peaks Maple that started operations in 2017.
“This is a really important project for the community,” said VLT’s Kerry O’Brien. “Large blocks of productive forestland with unique wildlife habitats and majestic views are crucial to protect, and this project checks all the boxes.”
With vast tracts of hardwood forest, the parcel has several streams, including over a mile of frontage along the East Branch Passumpsic River and its tributaries, as well as cedar swamps, wetlands and vernal pools. Hawk Rock is documented breeding habitat for the Peregrine Falcon, a bird once in serious decline that is being successfully reintroduced in Vermont.
“The conservation of Hawk Rock adds a big piece to conserved lands in the Northeast Kingdom,” said Caledonia and Essex County Forester, Matt Langlais. “It contributes to the protection and connectivity of wildlife habitats and ecological corridors by linking the Kingdom Heritage Lands in East Haven to the Willoughby State Forest.”
“With an active sugarbush and a long working-forest history, this partnership between VLT and Hawk Rock Holdings will ensure the continuation of these critical benefits to both our ecological and community health,” Langlais added.
Under the conservation agreement, the land will be managed sustainably to protect the forest, water and soil.
Hawk Rock Holdings LLC looks forward to continuing the longstanding tradition of sustainable sugaring, with an emphasis on the conservation of natural resources, and protecting traditional hunting culture in the Northeast Kingdom.
The property includes a series of dramatic granite cliffs and ledges forming Hawk Rock, wrapping around the southern side of Walker Mountain, and scattered west of Packer Mountain. Below the cliffs are areas with mid-sized boulders, some up to 20 feet high.
These cliff areas have abundant wildlife habitat. Above the cliffs are densely wooded areas with Yellow Birch and Red Spruce trees, a special forest type that’s rare in Vermont. The conservation easement has special ecological protections for several cliff areas and associated forests, encompassing approximately 62 acres.
Rooted in Vermont since 1977, the Vermont Land Trust unites land and lives for the enduring benefit of people and the place we share. We have protected more than 620,000 acres of land and foster life-long connections to farms, forests, and community spaces that define Vermont. Learn more at vlt.org.