The Cmapion Land Deal
The acquisition of the so-called “former Champion lands” resulted from one of the most complicated land deals in Vermont history. The Champion Lands in Vermont were part of a larger deal involving almost 300,000 arces in New York, New Hampshire as well as Vermont. The specifics of how the property was transferred to the current owners are relevant because in some cases the provisions of the transfer mandate certain types of management or constrain management in other ways.
On October 8, 1997, Champion International Inc. announced its intention to sell approximately 200,000 acres in the Northern Forest. Champion, and the St. Regis Paper Company before it, had owned these lands for decades, and during the last…show more content…
An important part of this model was to divide the Champion lands into separate but complementary ownerships on the basis of ecological values and basic management purposes: areas with the greatest ecological significance would be publicly owned and protected, with timber harvesting precluded on substantial acreages to allow natural processes like forest succession to occur unimpeded; and the most productive timber lands, with fewer special ecological values, would be kept in private ownership with a requirement that they be managed for long-term sustainable forestry. Public access for a variety of historic uses and other activities would be guaranteed on the entirety of the property.
When the possibility of acquiring the Champion lands had first arisen, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources requested that TNC lead a process to identify the most ecologically significant portions of those lands. VANR, TNC, TCF and the other partners in the acquisition used the results of that analysis to determine which parts of the overall property should be publicly owned either by the State of Vermont or the federal government, and which should remain under private ownership as a “working forest.” Ultimately, the VANR acquired more than 22,000 acres of land south of Route 105 that now comprise the West Mountain WMA, and the USFWS acquired 26,000 acres encompassing much of the Nulhegan Basin north of Route 105 as part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.The