SHREWSBURY, VT. >> A new 1,300-acre state forest named after a conservation-minded former U.S. Senator from Vermont opened this week in Rutland County.

The land straddling the towns of Shrewsbury and Mendon now known as Jim Jeffords State Forest connects protected lands in the adjacent Aitken State Forest and Coolidge State Forest.

The Trust for Public Land says the connectivity of the state forests will benefit native wildlife such as bears, moose and bobcats in addition to enhancing recreational activities for visitors.

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board will manage the conservation easement on the property.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says naming a state forest after Jeffords is "a perfect way to honor him" given the now-deceased former senator's passion for the outdoors.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for early summer.