Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) Accepted As New Program of the Catamount Trail Association (CTA). Partnership Aims to Give a Voice to Vermont’s Growing Backcountry Skiing Community.
For the last 12 months, the CTA has been actively discussing its role in Vermont’s evolving backcountry skiing community. It began in June 2013 with a half-day conversation at the annual Board Retreat, and continued in November 2013 at the CTA’s Annual Meeting which featured a panel discussion on the topic with special guests Craig Whipple (VTFPR), David Goodman (Backcountry Skier and Guidebook Author), Dickie Hall (Founder and Director of North American Telemark Organization), Dun Cochrane (USFS), and Peter Nelson (Friends of Tuckerman Ravine). These discussions raised more questions than they answered. However, it was made apparent that the greater backcountry community felt it was time to band together to protect and manage Vermont’s backcountry resources beyond the Catamount Trail.
In the winter of 2014, the CTA formalized a new Backcountry Committee focused on backcountry skiing in Vermont. Members of this committee participated in discussions that lead to the establishment of the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) in March 2014. The VTBC is a working group of individuals who wish to protect, advance and advocate for human-powered backcountry skiing and snowboarding in Vermont. The VTBC aims to facilitate public access to backcountry terrain while promoting the conservation and responsible management of the mountain environment. Recognizing that the CTA and VTBC share similar goals, the two groups continued meeting throughout the spring to explore options for working collaboratively.
This June, the CTA Board met with representatives of the VTBC and approved the VTBC as a new program area of the CTA. This action formalizes a relationship that had been evolving since last fall, and will enhance the CTA’s ability to engage with Vermont’s broader backcountry community. We believe this relationship will help increase awareness of and commitment to the Catamount Trail Association, while helping to create patterns of sustainable use and responsible management of backcountry terrain beyond the Catamount Trail.
The CTA’s primary goals will continue to be maintaining and conserving the Catamount Trail corridor, by working closely with the landowners and managers who host the trail and the volunteers who maintain it. Landowners have always played a key role in Vermonters’ access to outdoor recreation experiences, and we wish to maintain that tradition through close contact and responsible use and management.
The VTBC plans to work with public land managers to create and responsibly manage terrain beyond the Catamount Trail for backcountry skiers and riders of all abilities. As its first order of business, the VTBC is developing a Backcountry Ethic to educate users about respectful and responsible use of both public and private terrain. The CTA will support the efforts of the VTBC, however volunteers will continue to play a leading role in accomplishing the goals they’ve established.
The CTA and VTBC are also exploring a chapter model that would be used to organize and support local groups looking to collaborate on terrain projects in their immediate vicinity. Beginning this summer, we will be working with Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA) as a pilot chapter to explore how this model might work.
The CTA is pleased and excited to be engaging in new ways with the evolving Vermont backcountry community, and will continue to provide updates on its progress and projects. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions regarding the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC). You can also learn more through the VTBC tab on the CTA website, or by going to VTBC.org. We’d be happy to hear from you and to continue the discussion concerning this new program.
Upcoming CTA/VTBC Projects and Events
- Drafting of VT Backcountry Ethic – Ongoing through Fall 2014
- CTA/VTBC Chapter Pilot Project – w/ Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA) – Summer/Fall 2014
- US Forest Service Review of RASTA’s Proposed Backcountry Skiing/Riding Zones – Ongoing Summer/Fall 2014
- 2014 Vermont Backcountry Forum – Evening of Thursday, Nov 6th in Rochester, VT More details to come.
- CTA Annual Meeting – Saturday November 15, Killington, VT