Ann’s speech at the Nov 1st VLT/BoltonFriends Party at the Ponds

Ann’s speech at the Nov 1st VLT/BoltonFriends Party at the Ponds

Greetings!  We are at Bolton Valley today celebrating because each one of us realized the value of this land and was committed to its conservation.  Thank you everyone!   And a Huge thank you to the VT Land Trust (Bob, Elise, Milena, Sharon Gil, and everyone else). You did a superb job in assuring the land deal by reaching out to folks, organizing events, negotiating deals, writing grants, fund raising, all this,  while holding the hands of “The Friends” every step of the way!  We can’t thank you enough!  And, by the way, thank you for throwing this fabulous party!  

Let’s give them a hand! 

Why protect this land?  Wildlife, Watershed Value, Recreation, Friendships gained by working, skiing, and hiking the land, to care for a forest that is beloved by many.  

But that was not always the case.  

 Here’s a quick History:

Large scale floods in 1852, 1927, 1989, and 2011 causing significant damage, dramatically changed Joiner Brook and its tributaries.

From the mid-1800s to 1920 commercial logging practices essentially clear cut the forest.  

Then, in 1922, the first conservation efforts began.  Edwin Bryant an outdoorsman and pioneer skier bought 10,000 acres of Bolton Valley.  He stopped logging practices, built 3 successive cabins going up the mountain. The highest of these cabins remains intact and is still used today. He allowed the Green Mountain club to route the Long Trail and build Bolton Lodge on his land.  He built several ski trails and allowed area clubs (such as the Boy Scouts) to use the land and cabins.

After Mr Bryant’s death, the forest was again logged.  

In 1962 the Deslaurier family purchased the land and built Bolton Valley Ski Resort.


During the late 1960s a retiree who liked to keep busy, named Gardiner Lane moved to Bolton and decided to head the tiny Nordic ski center.  Gardiner had a vision of creating an extensive network of Nordic and Backcountry trails.  He forged countless relationships with organizations and people of all ages.  He went to work building, maintaining, and skiing trail upon trail.  He had help from other retirees.  They called themselves “The Old Goats” and the legend was born.  Gardiner and the Old Goats became mentors and a source of inspiration for a group of young enthusiasts, who coined themselves the “Young Catamounts”.  

Some of the original Old Goats are here tonight.

 As the “Old Goats” aged the care and stories of the land were passed to the “younger generation”.  The Catamounts who have now approached the age of “Old Goats” have accepted the challenge of trail maintenance with pride and vigor.  

It was inconceivable to the Goats and to many others that we could have lost this land in the winter of 2011.  We went into action, forming an advocacy group, “The Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry”. We joined forces with the VT Land Trust.  Together, we created a fascinating adventure. The end result: This land is now in its proper home, Mount Mansfield State Forest.   

This year while the Old Goats continued our yearly Fall trail clearing efforts, significant work was done on Broadway and Maple Loop.  Thanks to the combined efforts of Bolton Valley Resort and State Forests and Parks, bridges were built, culverts were placed, trails were crowned, and water diverted to stop further erosion of the trails.    

To assure continued stewardship of the land, our advocacy group, “Bolton Friends” now begins the process of forming a Non-Profit Organization.  We plan to work closely with State Forests and Park and Bolton Valley Resort, as well as Catamount Trail Association whose trail passes through this land and the Green Mountain Club, assisting with their efforts to restore Bolton Lodge and Bryant Cabin.  Having a Non-Profit status, “The Friends” will be eligible for grant application, making it possible to continue needed work on the land. Please visit our table sometime this evening.

We have so many people and organizations to thank for this journey, including all of you in this room today. There are people who have been very visible in their efforts from the onset.  Jerry, Cilla, Laureen, Hope, Liz, Sheri, Sylvia, Clem, and many others, thank you for your tireless devotion to the cause.  Then, there are those of you who quietly but so generously assisted from the sidelines. You know who you are, Thank you so very much! 

Thanks to the Vt Land Trust, the VT Housing and Conservation Board, VT Depts of Natural Resources as well as Forests and Parks.  Thank you to many like-minded Nonprofit Organizations including the Catamount Trail Association, The Green Mountain Club, and foundations such as the Conservation Alliance.  Thank you to the many area businesses including the Outdoor Gear Exchange, the Ski Rack, Patagonia, Onion River Sports, and “The Point” FM. Thank you Larry Williams and Doug Nedde for working with us and agreeing to keep Nordic skiing as a valuable part of Bolton Valley Resort.  

In closing, we are all separate individuals but have been united in our common bond to conserve this land.  We are drawn to this mountainous forest to absorb its simple beauty, breathe its air and aromas, gather strength by walking and skiing its trails. The seasons, the floods, the people will come and go.  But here, the land will continue to be an ever changing, living, breathing, and eternal organism.  We have made that possible.

Thank you.

Ann Gotham