Vermont News Guide - Page 8


Community Forest Opens to the Public
On Thanksgiving eve , a group of spirited supporters gathered to mark the official opening of the Cambridge Community Forest ( CCF ). While the ceremonial ribbon cutting took just seconds , the journey to create this important community space took years and countless hours of effort by invested volunteers and community members .
The ceremony kicked off with a land acknowledgement and speaker presentation from key stakeholders including the Agricultural Stewardship Association ( ASA ), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation , The Land Trust Alliance , Village of Cambridge Mayor Carman Bogle , and White Creek Supervisor , James Griffith .
The first step in the journey of creating the CCF was the purchase of the 140-acre wooded property at the edge of the Village of Cambridge by ASA with significant funding support from the Open Space Institute ( OSI ). “ The funding that OSI provided launched our ability to fundraise for the remaining cost ,” said Renee Bouplon , ASA Executive Director . Contributions from the Fields Pond Foundation , and the Community / Land Preservation and Planning Fund of The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region , as well as individual community members assisted with the purchase .
“ The conservation of the Cambridge Community Forest is connecting children , families , residents , and visitors to nature and to each other ,” said Kim Elliman , president and CEO of The Open Space Institute ( OSI ), which granted $ 80,000 towards the $ 110,000 purchase price of the property . “ OSI is proud to have played a significant role in preserving this richly forested landscape , and prouder , still , to cheer on the Agricultural Stewardship Association ”
An important first effort in creating access to the property was the repair of an existing bridge to provide access to the forest . While the initial work began in fall of 2020 , it was delayed due to COVID and funding delays , the bulk was accomplished throughout the early months of 2021 . Around the same time , a committed group of volunteers formed the Friends of the Cambridge Community Forest group with the aim of mapping potential trails , envisioning and facilitating educational opportunities , and developing strategies for managing the forest .
Some of the group ’ s ideas were soon realized thanks to funding received from the Charles R . Wood Foundation which enabled ASA to engage the services of Lichen Ecological Design to create a plan for a sensory trail at the forest . Throughout the summer and fall , members of the Friends came together to begin work on the sensory trail and other hiking trails . In addition , an area beyond the bridge was transformed into a welcoming entrance to the forest complete with a kiosk , made of wood harvested from the forest and recycled slate . Additional hiking trails will be completed in the coming year .
“ It is with tremendous excitement we are opening the CCF to the public . The CCF represents ASA ’ s investment in the forestry aspect of our work as well as the community of Cambridge . We are grateful to those who have shown their support through donations and volunteer work . We know that this project will have long-lasting benefit to the community ,” said Renee Bouplon .
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8 Vermont News Guide December 6 , 2021