News Release

Community Invited to Celebrate 10th Anniversary Saturday, August 16th New Forest Center: A "Green" Gateway to the Forest

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Date: August 4, 2008

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and the Conservation Study Institute will celebrate their10th anniversary with a community open house and celebration Saturday, August, 16th. The park is Vermont’s only national park, located in Woodstock and operated under the arm of the Department of the Interior. The national park, which comprises 550 acres on Mount Tom, was established by an act of Congress in 1992 and opened to the public in 1998.

The celebration begins at 10:30am Saturday with an hour-long program featuring a special performance by the Woodstock Union High School Speakchorus – Nobody Sings the Song Like Wendell Berry. Special guests include U.S. Congressman Peter Welch and Vermont Representative Allison Clarkson. 

The morning program concludes with a ribbon-cutting formally opening the park’s Forest Center, a new classroom and gathering space, one of the greenest buildings in the national park system and the State of Vermont. The Forest Center is being evaluated for possible Gold or Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The new building, crafted mostly from Mount Tom forest wood, features a low emissions wood-fired boiler, solar panels and cupola windows that open as a response to carbon dioxide levels in the main meeting room.

A few years back when the national park began work on a plan for the future of the Mount Tom Forest, a group of local teachers was asked: “how can this new park help you in your work with students?” Park Resource Manager Christina Marts says the park got an overwhelming and unified response, “teachers asked for a place to meet, a place to gather” as they went off on their forest adventures. Vermont teachers who met at the Forest Center for a recent preview sent emails back to the national park saying they were “thrilled” by the “beautiful” space and “how lucky we are to have chance to use this with our students.” In the past few weeks, young people taking part in the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps community crew, Student Conservation Association trail crew and the Mountains and Rivers Forever day camp also made use of the Forest Center.

Today, it’s hard to tell if you’re in or out of the woods at the Forest Center as it is designed to be airy and light-suffused, a shelter and a classroom made almost entirely from wood from the Mount Tom Forest. As Park Superintendent Rolf Diamant wrote recently of the building, noting its marriage of sustainability and craftsmanship, “It is a reminder of the potentially productive connections between art, environment and technology.”

Following the ribbon-cutting, both the Forest Center and the newly renovated 1876 Wood Barn will be open for public viewing, including the new exhibit, The Mount Tom Forest: A Legacy of Stewardship. Local furniture maker Charles Shackleton has designed a two-sided bench specially crafted for the exhibit space from Mount Tom-harvested red oak. The exhibit also features, on public display for the first time, 16 historic carriages and sleds that once traversed the park’s carriage roads.

Starting at 2:00pm community partners and local youth will kick-off a community hike through the park. There will be special events and features along the hiking route to surprise and delight both young and old. Join friends, neighbors and colleagues on this non-competitive hike in celebration of trails, community and stewardship. Hikers will be able to choose from three routes, ranging from ½ mile to 4.5 miles. All hikes will begin and end at the Forest Center. Registration will be open until 3:00 and each participant will receive a badge in commemoration of this community event.

The capstone of the day will be a concert by Vermont artist Spencer Lewis beginning at 4:00pm. Lewis’ intriguing compositions are inspired from living close to the land in Vermont and feature a blend of Classical, American Folk, and old fashioned music with a modern twist. Throughout the afternoon, all regular park programs and tours will be provided free of charge.

Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park is named in honor of three Woodstock, Vermont families responsible for the careful and continuous stewardship of this land. They include George Perkins Marsh, Frederick Billings and Mary and Laurance Rockefeller. The park opened in 1998 with a legislative mandate to maintain and build upon the 140-year-old legacy of stewardship. The Conservation Study Institute, a National Park Service think-tank located at the park, focuses on the future of conservation.

Last updated: May 22, 2018

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