2018 August

Important Advocacy Update!

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Please take the time to read if you care about trails in Vermont…

The VT Trails and Greenways Council is working to coordinate a unified message to state leadership regarding Act 250 and its impact on trails, landowners and municipalities.

In brief, Act 250 is land use and development law that has meant a lot to Vermont since its inception in 1970. We’ve learned a lot in 50 years and it’s time to evaluate how the law intersects with trails.

It’s important that we send a clear massage that acknowledges the role Act 250 plays in keeping Vermont beautiful, but also encourages the commission to consider its application relative to landowners and trails going forward. Act 250 for many landowners is a deal breaker. Private land accounts for over 70% of Vermont – we need to actively advocate for our landowners – particularly if we are to realize our vision of connected networks.

The Trails and Greenways Council will dig into the specifics of definitions, rules and regulations with the legislature. What we’re seeking from you is general support and input that highlights the positive role of trails in Vermont.

The Agency of Natural Resources is hosting two more regional summits to gather input about about Act 250, including its impact on trails in Vermont. The Commission on Act 250: “The Next 50 Years” was established by the Vermont Legislature to work on modernizing Act 250. It’s very important that the Commission hear voices of the trails and outdoor recreation community during this process.

VMBA and the Council fully supports the work of the Commission as conservation and environmental protection are core values for all of us. However, we are also concerned because Act 250 regulation can and has created confusion, expensive and time consuming obstacles to improving and maintaining your trails.

It is critical that any potential reforms consider the irreplaceable benefits of Vermont trails. We must inform our legislators and state leadership charged with modernizing the law understand that support of the trails and volunteers is required at this time. Creating cumbersome and confusing obstacles for the landowners, towns, nonprofits and volunteers that create, build and maintain virtually all of the trail infrastructure for the public good will have tremendously negative impacts.
Over 70% of our trails are hosted and maintained on private land and made possible through 100,000+ volunteer hours annually. We need to actively advocate for our private landowners and our visions of trail connectivity.

There are two regional summits remaining:

  • Rutland – Sept. 5 – 6-8 pm, Franklin Conference Center
  • Burlington Sept. 12 – 6-8 pm, Burlington Elks Lodge, 925 North Ave

At a summit or through the online survey , please share all of your reasons for supporting appropriate trail building criteria going forward. The multiple choice sections on the survey cover a wide range of environmental and development issues, so we suggest you use one or two of the short answer sections to voice concerns specific to trails. Please consider highlighting some of the following information:

  • Trails are invaluable pathways to better health, rural economic stability and conservation in Vermont
  • Cumbersome permitting fees attached to “development” are a deal breaker for nonprofits. Our trail infrastructure is not built by volunteers for commercial purposes
  • Trail organizations and users are conservationists, completely dedicated to environmentally friendly and sustainable trails
  • Over 70% of trails are on private land – we need regulation that will support their generosity and encourage even more trails and conservation
  • Trails have a low environmental impact with great benefits, including the inspiration of greater conservation and environmental protection. Therefore, trails should not be considered “development”and lumped into the same regulation categories as other construction projects
  • Currently, Act 250 limits Vermont’s ability to fully realize the benefits that could come with greater support for trails and outdoor recreation
  • Trails and outdoor recreation not only make
  • Vermonters healthier with over 72% of Vermonters participating, but they also provide over 50 thousand, or roughly 1 in 7, of the jobs in Vermont (Outdoor Industry Association)

take the ACT 250 SURVEY

THE ROCK POINT AND ARMS FOREST COALITION

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THE ROCK POINT AND ARMS FOREST COALITION

A Community Partnership balancing Conservation and Public Access

The Fellowship of the Wheel is proud to announce a partnership with the Rock Point and Arms Forest Coalition. Our shared goal is the long-term conservation of an ecological treasure comprising Rock Point and Arms Forest on the Burlington waterfront. The Fellowship supports the ecological scoping study and community input process that will determine the future uses of these lands. Should the assessments determine that the Arms Park area is favorable for a multi-use trail system, our goal as a partner is to bring our experience in trail sustainability and land stewardship to the Arms Forest while making outdoor recreation accessible to more diverse groups of people, especially with regard to ability, age and location.

Currently, the Arms Forest trail system is used by local residents for walking, running and biking, but there is no formalized public access and signage is minimal. In addition, there are rogue trails in need of re-routing or closure that currently infringe on some rare natural communities of plant and animal species. By utilizing sustainable trail practices and educational measures such as interpretive signage and mapping, the Fellowship aims to aid in the long-term stewardship, protection, and enjoyment of Arms Park.

A possible outcome is that driving to a trailhead will no longer be a requirement to access multi-use trails for Burlington residents. This project will also benefit local  businesses who may use this recreational asset as a draw for recruiting employees from outside the area, as it adds a valuable and much-needed recreational trail network to the city of Burlington.

WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP

The Coalition is close to its goal of raising approximately $900,000 needed for the purchase of property, conservation easements, educational signage and upgraded trail infrastructure, but there is still approximately $40,000 more to raise for this project. Fortunately, we have an anonymous donor who will match dollar for dollar every new donation given to help us reach our goal! This is exciting news for all of us involved in this wonderful project, and will make our final push to the end of the campaign much easier. This project will benefit the current natural community of plants and animals that live within Arms Forest and Rock Point as well as the lives of those who live and work in Burlington by providing access to recreational and educational opportunities in an urban wilderness. Please consider a generous donation and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to have your contribution doubled.

To donate, visit the “Donate” link on http://www.parksfoundationburlington.org and select “Fellowship of the Wheel” when making a donation.

Public press release: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/Press/rock-point-and-arms-forest-coalition-goal-conserve-and-steward-with-improved-public-access-for

For more information or questions, please contact us at fotwheel@gmail.com

 

Saxon Hill Parking on Thompson Drive is Open!

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From the Essex Zoning office:

“Great news – the new temporary parking lot is now open at the end of Thompson Drive. Once you come to the end of the pavement on Thompson Drive, it turns to gravel – continue straight and the lot is a short distance down the gravel road on the right. Be careful as construction is being done to extend Thompson Drive and to build Red Clover Drive. In addition to those trucks running the road, the sand extraction project is ongoing and also has trucks that run down the road and by the parking lot. If you see a gate (open or closed) do not go through it as the public entrance stops at the parking lot!

Also, the parking lot located at the top of Saxon Hill has been reduced in parking spots. Parking is not longer allowed in front of the house at the top of the hill. Cars will be towed if they are parked in the fire lane. Let’s be mindful of the neighbors!

Thanks all and have a great day!”

Hunting Season: Carse, HTF and Mobbs will close at the end of the day Friday, November 2nd, 2018 more info