Burlington, VT– More public land for Burlingtonians to use, as the city was gifted nearly a dozen acres of field space, now allowing access from the bike path to a nearby forest.

The Arms Forest is home to a handful of protected species and some of the largest trees in the Queen City. It’s now accessible from the Burlington Greenway, thanks to a gift of private land from Elks Lodge 916 to the city, adding 11 acres of a now-public meadow.

“We have a lot of forested land, but what we don’t always have a lot of is this open meadow land, so the acquisition from the city of this land will help us protect it for future generations,” says Cindi Wight, Director of Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront.

Land acquisition efforts started in 2017 by the Rock Point Coalition, which aimed to enhance public access to natural spaces and create safe access points from the bike path to local neighborhoods.

Rosaire Longe of the Elks Lodge spearheaded efforts to hand over the land, saying it wasn’t easy to convince members it was the “right thing to do.”

“There’s a lot of good to this land that really needed to be conserved, so it’s an important piece to the world, let’s say,” says Longe.

Mayor Miro Weinberger notes 50% of Burlington’s land is open space, half of which is a protected natural area.

“In the generations to come as Burlington has become a growing city with many people wanting to live here, wanting to make their lives here,” says Weinberger, “having these natural spaces in complement to becoming a growing city is going to be more important than ever.”

Wight says in the coming years the department will work to improve access on the uphill slope from the bike path to the forest entrance. The department will also install signs at the forest entrance to mark the recent history of the land.