Perpetual Leases Approved for Camps on Champion Land

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(Host) The Vermont House has decided to give a perpetual lease to the people who own camps on the state’s portion of the former Champion Lands. By a vote of 89 to 51, the House gave its approval to the leases on Wednesday. That’s a big change from legislation approved in 1999 which allows camp owners to keep their leases for their lifetime plus 20 years.

Burlington Representative Mark Larson said a proposal to allow the camp owners to keep their property in perpetuity was a misuse of state lands. He urged members to support a plan that returned to the original terms of the Champion Land deal:

(Larsen) "I think it is to recognize the impact that this has: life plus 20 [years] maintains that this is state land and that the lease holders are guests on that land. When we transfer leases to be perpetual, we create a culture of private ownership, of private access to public land."

(Host) But Brattleboro Representative Daryl Pillsbury argued that individuals should be able to keep their camps forever:

(Pillsbury) "I want to see the camp culture keep going not for me, not even for my kids, but for the people that are up there now and their children. It’s one of the things that you don’t want to see it go away. You want to pass it down from generation to generation and if there is going to be a problem in 60 years, let’s let somebody else fight this one out."

(Host) This is one of several disagreements between the House and the Senate over appropriate uses of the state’s portion of the former Champion Lands. It’s unlikely that the disagreements will be resolved until the final days of session.

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