Arlington select board rejects wilderness expansion

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Arlington has become the latest Vermont town to oppose a proposal to add more wilderness to the Green Mountain National Forest. The Vermont Wilderness Association is promoting a plan to more than double the amount of wilderness in the state. The association is a coalition of environmental groups. After listening to a representative of the alliance Monday night, selectmen in Arlington gave the plan a unanimous thumbs down.

Wilderness is a federal designation that can only be approved by Congress. It’s a hands-off management approach that leaves land open to hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and other low impact recreation. Wilderness areas are closed to logging, road building, snowmobiling and other mechanized activities.

In their resolution opposing the Wilderness Association plan, the Arlington board called for a more active forest management strategy. The board also cited the economic benefits of logging and snowmobiling.

Currently only about one percent of the state is designated as wilderness. Advocates say more is needed to protect native species and to provide people with a backwoods experience.

In southern Vermont, the plan would increase the existing Lye Brook Wilderness by 10,000 acres. It would create new wilderness areas on Lamb Brook and Glastenbury Mountain.

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