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Cold Hollow Mountain History; The Road Not Taken by Nancy Patch

Posted Saturday, March 2, 2024
— Connections 2024 Winter/Spring

The Cold Hollow Mountains today are the defining topographic characteristic for Cold Hollow to Canada. To highlight this I am reiterating what we have on our website, but it might not have come out this way. In the 1960’s some folks in Vermont and Canada had a different vision. Read on.

The Cold Hollow Mountains stretch across seven towns in northern Vermont, making up the tip of the Green Mountain ridge line. This area extends from the towns of Fletcher, Waterville and Belvidere in the south up to the Canadian border and the towns of Bakersfield, Enosburgh, Montgomery, and Richford. We informally refer to the area that these seven towns encompass as the Cold Hollow to Canada (CHC) region.

The Cold Hollow Mountains are part of the largest intact temperate forest left in the world: the Northern Forest, stretching across the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. From Massachusetts to Quebec, the Northern Forest encompasses nearly 82 million acres and is inhabited by 470 vertebrate species, 2,700 plant species, and 5 million people.

The forests of the CHC region lie at a crucial nexus for wildlife traveling across the greater Northern Forest. This wildlife linkage, known as the Northern Green Mountains Priority Linkage, runs from the northern Green Mountains in the United States to the Sutton Range in Canada, and has been identified by Two Countries, One Forest as one of the top six wildlife connectivity linkages in the Northern Forest. The functional integrity of the entire Northern Forest can be maintained by conserving forest blocks and
connectivity in these six linkages.

Shown here are the priority linkages researched and developed by 2 Countries, 1 Forest for preserving connectivity for wildlife movement throughout the Northern Forest. The Cold Hollow Mountains are part of the Northern Green Mountains priority linkage.

As a regional crossroad, the ridge lines and valleys in the Cold Hollow Mountains provide crucial habitat links for wildlife from across the northeast. From New York to Nova Scotia, wide-ranging mammals are connected via an elaborate habitat network that allows for the flow of genetic diversity and keeps populations strong by enabling wildlife such as black bear, moose, bobcat, and fisher to travel as far as they need to.

The Cold Hollow Mountains, as part of the Northern Forest, are also home to the greatest diversity of breeding bird species in the continental United States. Species like the Black-throated Blue Warbler, Canada Warbler, Wood Thrush, Bicknell's Thrush, and others, have in some cases 90% of their global population breeding in this region.

It could have been different. There are moments in history that have dramatic impacts that define our present time. One of those moments in the History of the Cold Hollow Mountains occurred in the early 1960’s. At that time a coalition of Canadian and Vermont business men along with VT FPR commissioner Perry Merrill formed the Cold Hollow Corporation with the goal to develop this area as a ski area. This raised the issue of conflict of interest for Merrill and while being cleared of this charge by the AG, he left the corporation.   The following year, the Vermont legislature passed a bill to have the state construct an access road to the proposed ski area.

By 1964, the project was starting to fall apart. The required funds had not been raised and by 1965 new financial partners had been found and the Cold Hollow Conservation Corporation was formed, including Montgomery’s own Jim Soden as chairman of the board. In early 1966, the company announced that tree harvest and forest improvement were their only plans. Today almost 5,000 acres of this land is permanently conserved with easements held by the Vermont Land Trust. We, at Cold Hollow to Canada, and the other residents of this ecoregion; plants, animals, soil and rock are indeed grateful for this outcome.   Please take a look at the link below for a bit more detail and we thank New England Ski History for this story. 


Read about how a part of the Cold Hollow Mountain range was once slated for ski resort development