What is the Ashley Community Forest?
The Ashley Community Forest is a beautiful 256 acre parcel that straddles the Sharon and Strafford boundary. The Alliance for Vermont Communities wishes to conserve and give the land to the residents of both towns to be used as a community resource for recreation, wildlife, historic preservation, timber, and scenic beauty for generations to come.
The Alliance purchased the Ashley parcel in mid-2018 with the help of the Vermont Land Trust and many local people to satisfy two goals: to help block NewVistas plans for an out-of-scale development and to establish a Community Forest. Within a month of this key purchase, David Hall, the developer, declared he was pulling out of the state and selling NewVistas’ 1500 acres.
AVC will establish an easement on the property with the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to ensure that the Ashley Community Forest is protected and open for public access in perpetuity.
AVC is working in partnership with the Vermont Land Trust, The Upper Valley Land Trust, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Upper Valley Trails Alliance. We are grateful for their guidance and support.
The Ashley Community Forest Will Offer:
- Recreation: Public access for hiking, skiing, hunting, picnicking and snowmobiling, which advances Sharon and Strafford town goals to promote forest and wildlife protection, preserve rural character, and expand recreational opportunities for four season use. The Ashley land borders the Manning Farm, which was recently conserved by the Upper Valley Land Trust, and is very near the Robinson Farm, recently conserved by the Vermont Land Trust. Together the parcels create 854 contiguous acres of conserved working farms and forest land. The Ashley Trails will directly link to trails on adjacent conserved land and perhaps later to neighboring towns.
- Working Woodlands: The Ashley Community Forest will continue to be managed for long-term timber production and support of local forestry-related jobs.
- Wildlife: With diverse forests, fields, wetlands and streams bisecting the north and south portions of the property, the Community Forest offers exceptional wildlife habitat.
- Historic Resources: Several well preserved 19th-century historic archaeological features showing evidence of the Forest’s agricultural past.
- Scenic Beauty: Ashley Community Forest has wonderful views, engaging trails and exquisite stone work.
- Education: Local community schools will be able to study and explore the wonders of the northern forest and contribute to the Community Forest stewardship through service projects.
It is planned that the Ashley Community Forest will be governed by a definitive management plan approved by the two towns, the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, which has committed to providing a $150,000 grant for the property’s acquisition and conservation.
It is planned that the Ashley Community Forest Committee (ACFC) will include members appointed by the Selectboards and a member from AVC. It is also planned that the ACFC will have full responsibility for the management of funds, revenue and maintenance of the land and trails. In time, it is expected that timber revenue will make the community forest self-sustaining.
Please read our FAQs for more information.
Please contact Alliance for Vermont Communities if you are interested in volunteering or if
you have questions about the project ~ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Explore the Ashley Community Forest through a series of outings.
How You Can Help Put the Ashley Community Forest on the Map:
- The Ashley Community Forest will be permanently protected for public use through a conservation easement held by the Vermont Land Trust and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
- In December of 2019, AVC successfully completed raising funds for the project budget of $523,100—this includes buying the land and costs for an appraisal, survey, forest management plan, legal expenses, and stewardship. Thanks to generous donors we did it! That said, we are still accepting donations for the project to be used towards future management.
- A portion of the funds raised for the Ashley Community Forest includes $20,000 to seed a forest management fund overseen by a committee from both towns and Alliance for Vermont Communities.
- Local foresters have estimated that the timber revenue will make the Community Forest self-sustaining over time.
Note: Trails are in an unimproved state so use caution when hiking.
Please make a donation today:
Mail: Please write “Ashley Community Forest” in the memo line and send to: