Vermont Backcountry Alliance recognized as official program

Photos courtesy of ©Brian Mohr/EmberPhoto

ROCHESTER — In an ongoing effort to create a unified voice for Vermont’s growing backcountry skiing and riding community, the recently formed Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) has been formally recognized as an official program area of Vermont’s Catamount Trail Association (CTA).  It’s a step that will enable both organizations to work collaboratively toward the VTBC’s primary areas of focus: mountain lands conservation, backcountry access, safety, and responsible terrain management.

“This is a big step for backcountry skiing and riding in Vermont,” says Brian Mohr, a volunteer member of the VTBC Working Group, which helps to guide the VTBC’s efforts. “Joining forces with the Catamount Trail Association pools our community’s resources and gives us the means to move ahead on a number of exciting projects.”

New backcountry zones proposed

One such project is spearheaded by central Vermont’s Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA) and includes a proposal with the Green Mountain National Forest to develop and maintain a handful of new backcountry skiing and riding zones on national forest land near Rochester. The proposal is currently moving through an approval process, with some work on the proposed zones commencing as soon as this fall.  RASTA is also moving ahead with a similar project on a large area of conserved land in Braintree.

“Our hope is that these could be models to help the VTBC and CTA drive similar projects around the state,” says Angus McCusker, a volunteer with RASTA and member of the VTBC Working Group. “We’ll need lots of volunteer and financial support, however, to see these through.”

This summer, RASTA has been recognized as a pilot CTA chapter, a possible first step toward the CTA becoming chapter-based organization, similar to how the Green Mountain Club (GMC) and the Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA) are organized.

Fall backcountry forum planned

Other projects on the VTBC’s radar include the creation of a new Vermont Backcountry Ethic, as well as the planning of the 2nd Annual Vermont Backcountry Forum on Thursday, Nov. 6 in Rochester, Vt. At the event, results from the recent Vermont backcountry survey will be presented, along with an overview of some existing and proposed projects coordinated by RASTA, Friends of Bolton, and others. Attendees will be asked to weigh in on a working draft of the Vermont Backcountry Ethic and will participate in a brainstorming session about the future of Vermont’s backcountry.

VTBC is also working closely with the Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation (VTFPR) to help update land management strategies to better accommodate backcountry skiing and snowboarding on Vermont state lands..

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