Out & About: Explore Ashley Forest in Sharon, Strafford

  • Bloodroot is one of many plants that can be seen in the Ashley Community Forest, which is located in Sharon and Strafford. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Calendar Editor
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Ashley Community Forest is a 218-acre parcel of land that sits in Strafford and Sharon, which was purchased by the Alliance for Vermont Communities.

This spring, the nonprofit organization is leading activities in the forest for the first time. Last weekend, it held its first bird walk. Coming up this weekend, two walks led by four Upper Valley naturalists will take place.

On Saturday, Mike Hebb and Kathy Thompson will take attendees on a trek from 7:30-9:30 a.m. On Sunday, Elisabeth ‘Tii’ McLane and Kyle Jones will lead a walk from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Registration is required for both events by calling Michael Sacca at 802-889-3210.

“It’s a diverse piece of land,” Sacca, president of the alliance, said. “There are some streams; there are some wetlands.”

The nonprofit organization hopes to give the forest to Sharon and Strafford. This fall, Sacca said there will likely be special Town Meeting votes where residents of each town will vote whether or not they want the forest.

“It’s unique in that it’s bisected by the town line,” Sacca said.

While the organization initially bought the land to protect it from being developed by Utah developer David Hall, it also had another mission in mind.

“We also wanted to create a community forest,” Sacca said. “We thought it would be a perfect use of the land.”

The guided activities are a way of introducing the greater public to the land.

“If we get people on the land, using it and seeing what an amazing place it is, they’ll talk it up, and there will be some familiarity with it,” Sacca said. “We want people to use it.”

Here’s a list of other upcoming events at the Ashley Community Forest:

■“Birding with Nathaniel Sharp,” on May 25, 4-6 p.m.

■“Birding with Steve Faccio,” on June 1, 7:30-9:30 a.m.

■“Fern Walk with Tii McLane,” on June 8, 9-11 a.m.

■“Reading the Forested Landscape with David Paganelli,” on June 15, 9-11 a.m.

Editor’s note: For more information, visit alliancevermont.org. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.