Vermont's Gateway To Backcountry Skiing And Riding


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“If you’re worried about the VTBC blowing up your favorite honey hole, fear not, the VTBC is a bottom up organization that is looking to provide resources to locals to help them facilitate their backcountry zone when asked for help.” – Alex Showerman, 11/12/14


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What is the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC)?

In the fall of 2013, a dedicated group of Vermont backcountry skiers and riders, including representatives of the Catamount Trail Association (CTA) as well as the Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA) began meeting with the intent of creating a unified voice for Vermont’s backcountry skiing and riding community. By early 2014, under the direction of the VTBC Working Group, the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) came to life. The VTBC spent the winter and spring engaging with Vermont’s broader backcountry skiing and riding community, while exploring the idea of a close working partnership with the CTA. With many existing, and evolving, ties to Vermont’s backcountry community, the CTA was a logical partner for the VTBC. Fortunately, the CTA thought so, too, and in late-June 2014, the CTA’s board voted unanimously to recognize the VTBC officially as a new program of the CTA.


Why did the VTBC form?

Local efforts to advance a wide variety of backcountry skiing and riding programs on public and private lands, including efforts driven by groups like Bolton Friends and the Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA), have been motivating land managers to do more to accommodate backcountry skiing and riding in their future land management planning. Recognizing that interest extends far beyond these more organized local efforts, land managers with both the Green Mountain National Forest(GMNF) and the VT Dept of Forests, Parks and Rec (VTFPR) have been seeking to engage and partner with the broader Vermont backcountry community.


What is the VTBC’s mission?

The VTBC Working Group has proposed the following mission statement: “The Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) seeks to protect, advance and advocate for human-powered backcountry skiing and snowboarding in Vermont. The VTBC facilitates public access to backcountry terrain while promoting the conservation and responsible management of our mountain environment.”


How is the VTBC set up organizationally?

VTBC is a program of the Catamount Trail Association (CTA), guided by a diverse working group of dedicated and backcountry-oriented skiers and riders. VTBC works collaboratively with its partners to facilitate backcountry programs and projects in Vermont. The Rochester Area Sports Trail Alliance (RASTA) is now a pilot-CTA/VTBC Chapter, blazing the trail for the CTA evolving into a chapter based organization.


What are VTBC priorities?

Our primary focus right now is on gathering input from the larger Vermont backcountry community. Surveys (like the one we helped to promote this past spring), comments via the VTBC Facebook page, comments via our website pages and posts, and any input via email are all welcome, too. We are also actively building partnerships with a wide variety of Vermont organizations and businesses, to further expand the scope of the dialogue.


What projects is the VTBC working on right now?

While VTBC’s main focus right now is on gathering public input and building partnerships, we are supportive of local efforts driven by grassroots partners like RASTA and Bolton Friends. We are also helping these groups connect with the larger Vermont backcountry community, which stands to benefit from their efforts. Last summer (before VTBC formed), the VT Dept of Forests, Parks and Rec (VTFPR) and Town of Stowe worked with one of our working group members to restore the Ruschp-Sterling Ridge Ski Trail above the Sterling Valley. VTFPR is interested in expanding backcountry skiing and riding opportunities in this area even more, and this area could serve as a good model for responsibly managing backcountry skiing and riding terrain on state lands.

Land managers and foresters with the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) and VTFPR are also eager to develop some basic guidelines and recommendations for responsibly managing backcountry skiing and riding zones on the variety of land areas they manage. VTBC seeks to be actively involved in shaping these guidelines with the best interest of the larger VT backcountry community in mind. Stay tuned for the publication of a “VT BC Handbook”.

We are also developing a set of common sense guidelines, in partnership with Leave No Trace, known as the “Vermont Backcountry Ethics” (more info, here). VTBC will be finalizing these guidelines in early winter 2014-15.


What will VTBC do with the survey results and input from the larger VT backcountry community?

The VTBC Working Group envisions focusing with our partners on the following program areas, and the input we continue to gather will affect how we approach and prioritize projects within these program areas:

Conservation: Working with the Vermont conservation community, VTBC prioritizes, advocates for and advances opportunities for conserving lands suitable for backcountry skiing and riding in Vermont.

Outreach: VTBC aims to be a unified voice for the Vermont backcountry skiing and riding community. It networks with partnering organizations, retailers, ski areas, the media, local officials/chambers and others in order to publicize important news, issues and projects.

Education: VTBC works with partnering organizations to increase backcountry awareness and safety among Vermonters and visitors alike, promote a Vermont backcountry ethic and stewardship, and help to expand opportunities for backcountry-oriented education on all levels.

Terrain Management: VTBC works with Vermont land managers, landowners and partnering organizations to cooperatively conserve, create and responsibly manage terrain for backcountry skiers and riders of all abilities.


Will the VTBC be policing illegal trimming/cutting of backcountry lines?

No. VTBC will work with the national forest, state and landowners to promote responsible and sustainable management of backcountry skiing and riding terrain. VTBC will participate in education, not enforcement.


How will new Catamount Trail Association (CTA) membership proceeds and donations support Vermont’s backcountry?

These funds will be managed by the CTA for ongoing backcountry skiing and riding initiatives developed in close collaboration with the VTBC.

If you have any questions or comments join the discussion via the VTBC Facebook page or contact us.

Thank you for your interest in VTBC!