- Associated Press - Friday, August 3, 2018

WATERBURY CENTER, Vt. (AP) - About 1,800 acres of land that are part of a popular hiking area along Vermont’s Hunger Mountain just east of Montpelier is going to be protected with help of $2.6 million in funding from the nation’s Forest Legacy Program, Vermont’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy announced Friday.

The money will be used to help preserve land in an area known as the Hunger Mountain Headwaters, most of which are located in Middlesex. The area includes some of the most popular hiking trails in Vermont, with access to Mount Hunger, Stowe Pinnacle and White Rock Mountain.

“The Hunger Mountain Headwaters is a perfect example of the kind of pristine forestland that the Forest Legacy Program seeks to preserve,” Leahy said during an event in Waterbury Center within sight of the mountains that will be preserved.

The area that includes the Hunger Mountain Headwaters is part of the Worcester Range, which run from just north of Interstate 89 in Middlesex to Elmore. The area is described as Vermont’s last undeveloped mountain range.

“Protecting these productive forestlands from future development safeguards local jobs, keeps vital habitat intact for wildlife in the Green Mountains and protects the quality of Lake Champlain while providing public access for outdoor recreation,” said Shelby Semmes, the Vermont and New Hampshire director for The Trust for Public Land.

Leahy helped create the Forest Legacy Program as part of the 1990 Farm Bill. Since then the program has conserved nearly 90,000 acres of Vermont forestland and 2.75 million across the country.

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