Trails and outdoor recreation provide an essential and accessible public benefit at very little cost to the State.
In the face of numerous physical and mental health challenges, and an aging and declining population, trails serve as vital infrastructure to help improve physical and mental health, inspire conservation and promote locally-driven and environmentally sustainable economic activities.
Outdoor recreation not only makes us healthier with over 72% of Vermonters participating, but also provides over 50 thousand, or roughly 1 in 7, of the jobs in Vermont. (Outdoor Industry Association).
The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) alone brings in $550 million dollars of economic impact into Vermont annually.
Other outdoor recreation industry provides roughly $500 million in state and local tax revenue, and $1.5 billion in wages and salaries (Outdoor Industry Association Report 2016).
According to the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council’s 2016 Economic Impact study (not including VAST as outlined above), just four low impact trail networks created $30.8 million in economic activity for Vermont.
Trail organizations and users are conservationists dedicated to building environmentally friendly and sustainable trails, with the majority of trail projects focused on improvements and maintenance of existing trails.
Many trail projects not only help prevent the erosion and run-off created by older deteriorated roads and trails, but also simultaneously educate and inspire environmental concern amongst trail volunteers and users.
Many new trail projects are focused on making important connections between existing Vermont trail networks to enhance public access and provide more Vermont communities with the myriad benefits of trails.
Over 70% of our public trails are on private land and therefore dependent on the goodwill and commitment of our landowners, which include more than 12,000 private landowners.
Most Vermont trails are maintained by towns and nonprofit organizations thanks to the goodwill and hard work of thousands of volunteers who contribute over 100,000 annual hours annually to trails.
By virtually any standard of assessment, trails have a relatively low environmental impact when compared with their significant benefits, including inspiring an interest in conservation and environmental protection.
Building and maintaining trails as our organizations do mitigate erosion issues like water run off and offer important corridors for wildlife.
The Vermont Trails Alliance (VTA) was started in the fall of 2018 to provide a platform for trail organizations in Vermont to advocate for the outdoor recreation non-profit community. This advocacy is incredibly important because the majority of the outdoor recreation structure in Vermont is run by these non-profit organizations that rely on thousands of volunteers. These organizations and our volunteers take land and wildlife sustainability and conservation stewardship very seriously. VTA is our voice collaboratively working together.
CHAIR Cindy Locke, Executive Director of Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST)
VICE CHAIR Tom Stuessy, Executive Director of Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA)
SECRETARY/TREASURER Abby Long, Executive Director of Kingdom Trails Association (KTA)
Danny Hale, Executive Director of Vermont ATV Sportsmen Association (VASA)
Gray Stevens, Executive Director of Vermont Outdoor Guide Association (VOGA)
Greg Western, Executive Director of Cross Vermont Trails Association (CVTA)
Jean Audet, Board Member of Vermont Horse Council (VHC)
Karen Yacos, Executive Director of Local Motion (LM)
K.J. Thompson, Executive Director of Vermont Huts Association (VHA)
Matt Williams, Executive Director of Catamount Trails Association (CTA)
Mike Debonis, Executive Director of Green Mountain Club (GMC)
Ned Farquhar, Executive Director of Mad River Path Association (MRPA)
Randy Richardson, Development Director of Upper Valley Trails Alliance (UVTA)