Vermont acquired its newest state park last week when the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation purchased 1,029 acres in Cabot and Marshfield from Vermont Land Trust. The new Molly’s Falls Pond State Park includes a 402-acre reservoir with roughly 35,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline and over 600 acres of forestland.
Even prior to achieving state park status, the Marshfield Reservoir has long been popular with boaters and anglers. The fishing access area includes wheelchair-accessible fishing platforms, managed by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In 2012 the Vermont Land Trust purchased the property from Green Mountain Power, with plans to eventually sell it to the state. Green Mountain Power retained 23 acres that includes a hydroelectric dam, buildings for the hydropower facility and spillways on the reservoir.
Molly’s Falls Pond State Park is now part of a large tract of state conservation and recreation lands in Central Vermont that also includes Groton State Forest.
“Connecting people with the outdoors is so important to our physical and mental well-being,” said Gil Livingston, VLT President. “And the surrounding healthy forest is part of a larger 30,000-acre block of conserved forestland critical to wildlife movement in the region. Vermonters and visitors alike will enjoy this spectacular place for generations to come.”
The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation bought the property from the Vermont Land Trust with money from the federal Forest Legacy Program.
"The Forest Legacy program protects environmentally important forestland properties that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses," a press release from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources states. "In Vermont this program has helped to permanently conserve over 67,000 acres of forestland."
“We were extremely fortunate that the Vermont Land Trust was able to acquire the property from Green Mountain Power when they did and were willing to hold onto it until the state was able to secure necessary funding,” Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder commented in the press release. “This project simply would not have happened had they not been willing to take this significant risk. The property is an exceptional place, not only for water-based recreation, but also for wildlife habitat and scenic quality along the Route 2 travel corridor, and we are excited and pleased that we will finally be able to protect it as a public resource.”
According to the press release, "The Vermont Land Trust also has secured stewardship funding to assist the Department with some necessary start-up and operations costs. A priority is to restore some of the most heavily used sites along the reservoir by replanting shoreline areas that are currently bare and erosion-prone."
The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation will be seeking public input in the coming year as it develops a long-term management plan for the park.