Catamount Forest Study Committee formed

Group will likely grow to 13 members

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The Catamount Community Forest Study Committee was seated during last week’s Williston Selectboard meeting with 10 members appointed and three more expected to join.

The committee is charged with creating a management plan for about 380 acres off Governor Chittenden Road that currently operates as the Catamount Family Outdoor Center. The Town of Williston is working with the landowners and the Vermont Trust for Public Land to take ownership of the parcel for protection as a public community forest.

Williston Conservation Planner Melinda Scott said a call for volunteers garnered a strong pool of applicants for the committee. The selectboard unanimously appointed the following people during its June 20 meeting.

JAMES DIAZ: The interim policy director for the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Diaz is a practicing attorney and resident of North Williston Road. He is also involved with the Vermont chapter of the Conservation Law Foundation and Voices for Vermont’s Children. In his application, he described himself as a user of the Catamount Outdoor Family Center and a neighboring homeowner.

PATRICE MALONEY: An abutting landowner, Maloney expressed concern in her application about the potential for additional traffic, trash and signage on Governor Chittenden Road. She is also concerned about additional cost to taxpayers to maintain the forest.

Maloney is a farmer, business owner and member of the Vermont Horse Council. She is interested in creating horseback riding opportunities on the property.

BARBARA EVANS: An outdoor enthusiast and nearby property owner, Evans is an engineer with Knight Consulting Engineers of Williston.

THERESA MARRON: Marron, a resident of Christmas Lane, describes herself as an avid hiker and birder with an interest in plant and animal wildlife and land conservation.

BEN NORRIS: Norris is an abutting landowner on Governor Chittenden Road. He is a regular user of the Catamount Outdoor Family Center as an avid mountain biker.

STEPHEN PAGE: Page is a neighbor of the property as a resident of Governor Chittenden Road. He is also a former municipal planner and former member of the Williston Planning Commission.

The following representatives from town boards were also appointed to the committee.

MICHAEL CLAUSS will represent the Williston Recreation Committee on the Catamount Study Committee.

ANTHONY JORDICK will represent the Williston Conservation Committee.

BENJAMIN KING will represent the Williston Planning Commission. King also serves on the Community Justice Board and Housing Trust Fund Task Force.

RITA DESSAU will represent the Winooski Valley Park District, for which she has served since 2013.

The selectboard originally set out to form a committee of seven to 10 people. It now plans to amend its policy to increase the committee size to as many as 13 members.

Kort Longenbach, a Southridge Road resident, is expected to be appointed to represent the Catamount Outdoor Family Center board of directors, on which he currently serves. The selectboard also plans to appoint abutting landowner Jeff Dickinson and Chittenden County Forrester Jake Tapper to the committee.