The United States Congress designated the Joseph Battell Wilderness (map
) in 2006 and it now has a total of 12,336 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Vermont
and is managed by the Forest Service.
The Joseph Battell Wilderness is located in the northern half of the Green Mountain National Forest, just south of the Breadloaf Wilderness. There are five mountains in the area with altitudes exceeding 3,000 feet: Monastery Mountain, Worth Mountain, Romance Mountain, Mount Horrid, and Philadelphia Peak.
The area is a rare ecological gem. It contains many patches of large, mature northern hardwoods, the longest section of roadless and trailless ridgeline on the Green Mountain National Forest, and the headwaters of Bingo Brook, one of the most pristine, high-quality trout streams in Vermont.
Because of its remoteness, the area provides critical habitat for black bear. In addition, 17 rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species have been identified on Mount Horrid alone.
Much of this wilderness was earmarked to be forever wild long before it was acquired by the Forest Service. The core of the area - Monastery Mountain to Worth Mountain to Romance Mountain - was bequeathed as a "park" to Middlebury College by Joseph Battell in 1915. In his will, Battell directed the trustees of these lands to "preserve as far as reasonably may be the forests of said park, and neither to cut nor permit to be cut thereon any trees whatsoever except such as are dead or down and such as it may be necessary to cut in making and repairing needful roads; it being a principal object of this [will] to preserve intact such wild lands as a specimen of the original Vermont forest."
Middlebury sold nearly all of Battell's lands to the Forest Service in the 1930s and 1950s. Despite Battell's intentions, the college sold the lands without restrictions. It was the sale of these very lands that prompted the Federal government to create the northern unit of the Green Mountain National Forest