According to a post on MTBVT, the Vermont Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is considering a blanket ban on mountain biking, along with rock climbing, geocaching and several other activities on all of their lands. Fish and Wildlife manages more than just the boat access points around the state. Their lands include all of the Wildlife Manamagement Areas in the state. Altogether they manage over 100,000 acres. These are not all pristine wild lands. I’ve been on many of these lands and they’ve allowed skidders and other logging equipment on them. For some reason, they now feel that these recreational activities have become enough of a threat that they had to create new rules.
I’m not suggesting that all of these lands just be blindly opened up to biking and trail building – some areas certainly shouldn’t be ridden on, but they can have the authority to restrict an activity without a complete state-wide ban. Properly managed mountain bike trails will have very little impact on the land and wildlife. It would be great if they would be willing to work with organizations such as VMBA or NEMBA rather than just prohibiting mountain biking.
You can read the proposed rule here. (PDF)
Please leave a comment here or attend one of the public hearings if you are able to. More information can be found on this page. The more voices that we add, the more likely this rule will be amended favorably.
Since I’ve noticed that many people are still finding this post via Google and other search engines, I thought I should update this with some information from VMBA that was posted to MTBVT.com last year.
“I like the heat access issues generate and encourage folks to keep the big picture in mind. For the record: VMBA will advocate for legal and responsible access to sustainably constructed and open access trails (preferably mapped). The days of secret illegal trails are (almost) over – smart phone, anyone? Every rogue trail building effort in Vermont serves to decrease your overall access on all types of lands.
The access pie in VT is sliced in many ways. Let’s be sure as a collective we understand that access is provided fairly, which does not necessarily mean equally. MTBers are not the user group funding F&W lands. Mtbers spend a lot of money in VT from real estate to bikes to lodging and so on. However, that number isn’t even close to the money spent on hunting license, certifications, processing, permits, firearms and ammunition. F&W land was not set aside for our type of recreation. That said, we have not been excluded from any F&W land wherein sensitive habitat is respected and the hunting season observed. The new rule being published is a huge benefit to VMBA! Every illegal trail will now get a wildlife biologist’s review. Once completed the trail will be legal! The new rule reads harsh, but before this language the state had to engage in a long legal battle to boot squatters and illegal camps. The spirit of the rule does not exclude legal mtbing.
We have great access and are invited to F&W lands because other “preferred groups” are willing to share (remember…fair, not equal). You already enjoy over 800 miles of legal access on other types of land management identities. VMBA will build on this total as we have yet to come close to realizing the potential of private land owners, state parks and Forest Service land. Chapters will continue to build and VMBA – in tandem with its state partners – will advocate for expanding access.
The state recognizes riders’ cash injection as illustrated in their investment in our operation expenses. The F&W Commissioner, Patrick Berry is an avid mountain biking/multi-use kind of guy. VMBA is the official corridor manager on all FP&R land. Commissioner Berry and I have discussed mtbing on F&W lands – he is 100% in favor as long as a wildlife biologist has viewed existing routes and new projects in advance. There is no “another kick in the pants from F&W” Instead, they have invited us to model the relationship we have with FP&R – what an invitation! Before now, building trails on F&W lands was mountain bikers kicking each other’s pants.”
VMBA has been doing some great work within Vermont and should get everyone’s support who has any interest in mountain biking – even if you’re not a resident but enjoy our trails here.