By Seth Deyo, Vernon Recreation Director

Vernon’s Black Gum trees have put the J. Maynard Miller Municipal Forest “on the map” as they say.   Well, the time has come to update that map, quite literally actually! The River and Trails Committee established through the Vermont Council on Rural Development Community Visit process has teamed with the Recreation Department (with help from the Highway Department) to provide some “TLC” to the 460-acre property located at the top of Basin Road.

The forest and wetlands where purchased by the town in 1973 from Jacques Delmarre for $175,000. At first it became known as the Basin Property, Delmarre Property, or Black Gum Swamp. At the 1981 Vernon Town Meeting, Selectman Antonio Abbiati made the motion to remove the various unofficial titles and rename the property the J. Maynard Miller Municipal Forest. Mr. Miller (an owner of the Miller Farm) spent countless hours working with foresters, outlining timber management plans, as well as mapping out and building recreational trails. The motion and subsequent renaming of the property was most certainly a fitting tribute.

Over the years, the Miller family has continued to invest hours maintaining and clearing the trails so others could enjoy exploring the forest and wetlands. Given the recreational aspect the staff of the Recreation Department has also played a role in this process. As with most anything proper maintenance is a necessity. With this in mind, we have begun a project which we believe will allow future generations to enjoy the forest as much as those in the past.

We put together a challenging but very doable “punch list” in an effort to upgrade, improve, and continue the maintenance on this extraordinary property.

  • Replace trail markers
  • Replacement of entrance sign
  • Construction of a kiosk area at entrance complete with benches
  • Trimming of existing trails
  • Establishing new trails
  • Development of GPS Maps
  • Replacement of tables at the Eric Haskins Eagle Scout Picnic Area
  • Cutting and designing a new family friendly vista picnic area

Work began this summer with continued progress expected throughout the fall and winter months. Stay tuned for updates as the work continues!