LMWG NZ Info Mtg Summary_August2010

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					                                Vermont Trails Collaborative
                            Landscape Management Work Group
                      North Zone Public Information Meetings Summary

The Vermont Trails Collaborative Landscape Management Work Group has achieved a
milestone in their work plan by completing all the public information meetings on the north
zone of the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF). This report is intended to summarize the
process and information gained from the north zone public information meetings, as well as
provides public opportunity statements based on input received thus far. This report can be
used to help guide future public information meetings scheduled for fall 2010 on the south
zone of the GMNF.

The Landscape Management Work Group (LMWG) is one of three working groups established
in the Vermont Trails Collaborative initiative. It was developed by the Vermont Trails
Collaborative Group in October 2009. The LMWG is comprised of many different stakeholder
groups consisting of trail management organizations, government agencies and special interest
groups. The goal of the LMWG is to work to develop recommendations that will lead to a more
ecologically and socially sustainable trail system. Appendix A displays the Issues and Objectives
that the LMWG have identified and agreed to address to the extent possible in this process.

The general planning framework for the LMWG is provided in Appendix B. Three public
information meetings were held in the towns of Pittsfield, Warren and Brandon. The public
information meetings were co-sponsored by local organizations interested in the work of the
LMWG. A note of gratitude for the Vermont Mountain Bike Association, Mad River Valley
Planning District and the Moosalamoo Association in assisting with the meetings.

The meetings were formatted to provide ample opportunity for public discussion around the
Issues and Objectives of the LMWG. They were generally a facilitated ‘focus group’ style of
discussion with 10-20 participants for two hours. Participants were introduced to the discussion
topics by the facilitator and posters for about 30 minutes. Then the participants were
encouraged to freely discuss the topics as they pertain to their local area. Notes were kept by
the facilitator and other members of the LMWG. They were consolidated and sent out to all
the participants for a two week comment period before posted on the LMWG website.

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                   1
Findings and Opportunities
The notes from the Public Information Meetings are formatted to capture the publics input into
the LMWG Issue categories that include:

1) Trail Connectivity
2) Ecological Impacts
3) Social Impacts
4) Supply & Demand
5) Trail Conflicts & Safety
6) Funding & Volunteers
7) Unauthorized/Illegal Uses

Information from the notes from each meeting have been summarized into Public Opportunity
Statements (POS) and categorized by LMWG Issue. The POS can be traced back to the original
public information meeting notes in Appendix C using the identifying number in brackets
following each POS. For ease of tracking this information the “numbering convention” is
provided here:

 NZB=     North Zone Brandon
 NZP=     North Zone Pittsfield
NZW=      North Zone Warren
  TC=     Trail Connectivity
   EI=    Ecological Impacts
  SD=     Supply & Demand
  CS=     Trail Conflicts & Safety
  FV=     Funding & Volunteers
  UI=     Unauthorized & Illegal Uses
    #=    Comment number

Public Opportunity Statements (POS) Categorized by LMWG Issue

         Trail Connectivity
         TC-POS-1: There is an opportunity to assign organizations or agencies in VT to serve as
         ‘de facto’ leaders in connecting smaller trail user groups and individuals in developing
         trail relationships that address multiple use and/or landownership connections. [NZB-
         TC-1, NZB-TC-2, NZB-TC-3, NZW-TC-1, NZW-TC-5, NZP-TC-1, NZP-TC-3]
         TC-POS-2: There is an opportunity for unconventional partners to work together to
         create additional capacities for sustaining trails. These multiple use trails have the
         opportunity of being renamed cooperative use trails. [NZB-TC-4, NZB-TC-5]

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                       2
       TC-POS-3: There is an opportunity to improve state tax and liability incentives and
       consistency for private, public and commercial landowners to allow the development
       and maintenance of public trails. [ NZW-TC-2, NZW-TC-3, NZW-TC-4, NZP-TC-2]

       Ecological Impacts
       EC-POS-1: There is an opportunity to better define what types of ecological impacts are
       acceptable or not acceptable along trail systems. [NZB-EC-2, NZP-EC-1, NZP-ED-4, NZW-
       EC-POS-2: There is an opportunity to improve user education to address ecological
       concerns along trails. [NZB-EC-3, NZW-EC-1, NZW-EC-2, NZW-EC-3]
       EC-POS-3: There is an opportunity for organizations to better collaborate in addressing
       ecological impacts along trails. [NZP-ED-2, NZP-EC-3]
       EC-POS-4: There is an opportunity for additional research to be completed so that
       managers can better understand the relationships between trail use and ecological
       impacts. [NZB-EC-1, NZB-EC-4]

       Supply & Demand
       SD-POS-1: There is an opportunity to better publicize recreation trail opportunities.
       [NZW-SD-1, NZW-SD-3, NZW-SD-4]
       SD-POS-2: There is an opportunity for additional research to better understand supply
       and demand trends for trail use in VT. [NZW-SD-2, NZB-SD-3, NZB-SD-4, NZB-SD-5, NZB-
       SD-6, NZP-SD-3]]
       SD-POS-3: There is an opportunity to better recognize, address and capitalize on non-
       traditional trail users. [NZB-SD-1, NZB-SD-2]
       SD-POS-4: There is an opportunity to address supply and demand issues through
       management of multiple-use trail systems. [NZP-SD-2, NZP-SD-5]

       Trail Conflicts & Safety
       SD-POS-1: There is an opportunity to centralize up to date trail information for users in
       Vermont. [NZB-CS-1, NZB-CS-2, NZB-CS-3]
       SD-POS-2: There is an opportunity to increase education and enforcement to address
       trail conflict and safety issues. [NZP-CS-1, NZB-CS-5, NZB-CS-12, NZP-CS-1, NZP-CS-2,
       NZP-CS-3, NZP-CS-5, NZP-CS-7, NZP-CS-8]
       SD-POS-3: There is an opportunity to enjoy the fact the trail conflict and safety is not a
       widespread major concerns on the north zone. [NZP-CS-5, NZB-CS-4]
       SD-POS-4: There is an opportunity to better design and construct trails to address user
       conflict and safety issues. [NZP-CS-2, NZP-CS-3, NZB-CS-8, NZB-CS-9, NZB-CS-10, NZB-
       CS-11, NZP-CS-4, NZP-CS-6]

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                       3
       Funding & Volunteers
       FV-POS-1: There is an opportunity to better recruit and reward volunteers to dedicate
       service to trail maintenance activities. [NZW-FV-1]

       Unauthorized & Illegal Uses
       UI-POS-1: There is an opportunity to address illegal uses by providing more legal
       opportunities. [NZP-UI-2, NZB-UI-1, NZB-UI-2]
       UI-POS-2: There is an opportunity to address illegal uses by better educating trail users.
       [NZB-UI-3, NZB-UI-4]

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                   4
                                                Appendix A
                                           LMWG Issues & Objectives

Issue                                                     LMWG Objective(s)
                                                          1. Identify high priority state-wide or regionally
                                                             important trails within the analysis area that transition
Trends show an increase in trails that cross multiple
                                                             across various landowners.
land ownerships and have to be relocated due to
                                                          2. Determine priority trails for protection and
changing landowners and unprotected trail corridors.
                                                             management in perpetuity through identifying land
Rerouting trails and constructing infrastructure to
                                                             interest acquisition (easements, fee, etc.) and/or
reestablish broken corridors are costly, time
                                                             management agreement priorities to protect against
consuming and may adversely impact resources.
                                                             potential gaps or resolve existing gaps in the trail
                                                          1. Identify a set of physical/ecological indicators of
There has been a concern that trails and/or their users
                                                          2. Utilizing existing information, identify potential
cause adverse impacts to physical and ecological
                                                             sources of physical and ecological impacts resulting
resources such as wildlife, soils, water resources
                                                             from trail related activities.
(streams & wetlands), air, cultural resources and
                                                          3. Provide recommendations to address identified areas
plants (NNIS).
                                                             of concern where trails may be adversely impacting
                                                             physical and ecological indicators.
                                                          1. Identify social factors (such as noise, conflicting uses,
                                                             safety, etc.) that cause trail based user conflicts.
The increasing number of trail users and types of trail
                                                          2. Identify locations and sources of existing and potential
uses may be leading to conflicts and reduced
                                                             trail user conflicts within the analysis area.
satisfaction of recreation experiences.
                                                          3. Provide recommendations to address existing and
                                                             potential trail user conflicts.
                                                          1. Utilize existing data to identify/quantify supply of
There has been a concern that the supply of existing         existing trail based recreation opportunities in the
trail based recreation opportunities does not meet the       analysis area and the trends of demand for different
current demand for the different types of desired            public recreation activities.
experiences. Examples include not enough supply of        2. Identify compatible uses that can be shared on multiple
bicycling, equestrian and non-motorized winter               use/experience managed trails.
recreation to meet the public demand for those            3. Provide recommendations to address areas where the
opportunities.                                               existing supply of trail based recreation opportunities
                                                             does not meet the public demand for experiences.
Funding for establishing and maintaining a system of
public trail based recreation opportunities continues
                                                          1.   Identify major sources of trail based funding that
to be a challenge. Trails that are not regularly
                                                               benefit trails within Vermont.
maintained due to the lack of funding accrue deferred
                                                          2.   Develop standard baseline cost estimates by use type
maintenance, which in turn may diminish the quality
                                                               for establishing and maintaining trails, including
of the recreation experience and the resources in
                                                               deferred maintenance.
which they are located. Vermont has many citizen
                                                          3.   Provide recommendations on how trail management
based (NGO) and government based trail
                                                               organizations can work together to leverage scarce
management organizations that compete for limited
funding. Opportunities may exist for trail
management organizations to better work together to
leverage scarce funds.
There are concerns that unauthorized uses of trails is    1.   Identify existing unauthorized uses within the analysis
increasing in Vermont. Unauthorized uses have the              area.
potential of negatively impacting authorized              2.   Provide recommendations on how to address
recreation use experiences, safety and the resources.          unauthorized uses to land managers.

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                                         5
                                         Appendix B
                                   LMWG Planning Framework

The Group will work from north to south focusing on analysis areas in and surrounding the
north and south zones of the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) to engage citizens
regarding LMWG Issues and Objectives (Appendix A). The LMWG will ultimately provide
recommendations to the Trails Collaborative Group, landowners and managers about future
trail management activities.

       Step 1: Issue Identification – Identify and agree upon a common set of trail based issues
       that the LMWG will address.
       Step 2: Objectives – Identify and agree upon a common set of objectives that address
       the issues.
       Step 3: Existing Conditions – Identify activities or initiatives that (individuals or)
       organizations are already engaged in to address issues and achieve objectives.
       Step 4: Gap Analysis – Identify the difference between Existing Conditions and Issues
       and Objectives.
       Step 5: Recommendations – Identify and agree upon recommendations that address the
       gaps identified in Step 4. The recommendations will primarily consist of broad
       landscape actions, but may include a limited number of site specific actions. Examples
       may include land management policy, ground disturbing activities, criteria for future
       decision making, interpretation/education, monitoring, research and
       Step 6: Final Report – A final report will be completed for each analysis area until the
       GMNF and surrounding areas have been completed.

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                      6
                                               Appendix C
                                   Public Information Meeting Notes

Numbering Convention
 NZB=    North Zone Brandon
 NZP=    North Zone Pittsfield
NZW=     North Zone Warren
  TC=    Trail Connectivity
   EI=   Ecological Impacts
  SD=    Supply & Demand
  CS=    Trail Conflicts & Safety
  FV=    Funding & Volunteers
  UI=    Unauthorized & Illegal Uses
    #=   Comment number

Trail Connectivity
              Different agencies are more cooperative for trail development than others. The railroads are pretty
              much non-cooperative.
              Different user groups face different issues associated with trail connectivity. For instance, bikers
              prefer loops that come back to the same point. VMBA seeks out areas where trails can be
              developed on land owned by a single property owner. But, the CTA is more linear, where it is
              impossible to avoid multiple land owners and jurisdictions.
              Historically, the FS has been used as a clearing house for connecting different user groups on
NZB-TC-3      multiple use trails. It would be difficult for a trail user desiring access to go around to every other
              user group on their own for trail development and access.
              VAST and CTA are trying to separate their trails where they can. But, is it appropriate or fair for
NZB-TC-4      every user to have its own independent trail system? VAST and CTA are an example of successful
              multi-use trails (cooperative use trails).
              If adding equestrian use or any other new use to existing trails, there is a need to ensure adding a
              new user won‟t adversely affect current users.
              Several trails in the local area, including Catamount Trail, Mad River Path, VAST Trails, local
              town trails (ie, Eaton trail near Warren School), and the Long Trail, all rely on public and private
              land. All are important to the community but there are missing connections. As an example, the
              Mad River Path would like to connect from Warren to Moretown but is currently missing links.
              Several trails have been “lost” in Waitsfield and surrounding areas due to changing landowners
              and/or lack of use.
              Ongoing problem…what do organizations have to offer as incentive to landowners to give
              easements/ROWs for trail continuity? A lot of landowners are looking for some sort of
NZW-TC-3      compensation for use of their lands. Some towns provide tax abatement; some organizations
              provide gifts or monetarily compensate the landowner. It was suggested that the State could
              address this issue with tax policy changes.
              Landowners worry about safety (or their property and person), privacy, tax impacts, property
              values, and encumbering the property for their heirs.
              Other trails to consider for connectivity may be payer use/restrictive use trails such as Sugarbush
              Resort (mountain bikes and hiking), Mad River Glen, and Ohly‟s x-country ski trails.
              The North Country National Scenic Trail is trying to connect Crown Point, NY to the Appalachian
NZP-TC-1      Trail. The route may go through the Champlain Valley to Middlebury and into the Moosalamoo
              National Recreation Area.
              State legislature should include municipalities in landowner liability law. Some municipalities are
              hesitant to develop trails on their property due to liability concerns.
              There is a desire to connect mountain bike trails from Pittsfield to Chittenden on existing
              snowmobile trails

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                                       7
Ecological Impacts
NZP-EC-1     Wild chervil is commonly found in the area along roads/trails
             State of VT has much more GIS information that could be included to make maps more robust.
             The State and Feds ought to collaborate more on mapping.
             There is an effort underway to regionally protect and connect ecosystems from northern New York
             east to New Hampshire and Maine. There may be complementing objectives to connect trails in
             the same locations. The North Country National Scenic Trail is currently analyzing potential
             routes to connect Crown Point, NY to the Appalachian Trail in VT.
             In a nutshell, I‟d like to highlight our Department‟s (VT Fish & Wildlife) potential concerns for
             unintended conflicts with either existing or future trail proposals that may have deleterious impacts
             on important critical habitats for sensitive wildlife species. In general, some examples of these
             would be snowmobile trails in or near critical deer wintering areas, hiking or biking trails thru
             critical mast or wetland feeding areas for bears/others, etc. Some of the potential impacts could be
             negated or mitigated by adequate buffers or perhaps seasonal use restrictions, but I did want to get
             these specific concerns into the record as a basis for future discussion and planning (Doug
             Blodgett, VT F&W, email 4/6/2010).
             There are unanswered questions about the ecological impacts of glade skiing creating even aged
             stands. Glade skiing impacts young tree regeneration.
             Personal observations show that non-native invasive species (NNIS) are more prevalent at
             trailheads today than 15 years ago.
             Education for reducing the spread of NNIS has been very effective for watercraft (Eurasian
             Milfoil). Trail managers should do something similar.
             Invasive species is a big concern along trails. A study found that one way to reduce the risk of
             invasive species is to keep a closed canopy intact.
             To address ecological concerns, need to hold workshops to educate public on how to build and
             maintain sustainable trails.
             If there is an underlying code of ethics such as “Leave It As You Found It” for all trails, how do
             you spread that message? As an example, the “Don‟t Hike In Mud Season” message is well
NZW-EC-2     known…can this be attributed to Mark Breen?!  This message was consistently spread over many
             years on tv, public radio, newspapers, etc. Another example is staying on the trail at Camel‟s
             Hump to protect fragile alpine plant habitat.
             Why does the USFS not have a trail closure in effect for mud season so they could ticket people
NZW-EC-3     who walk on and damage wet trails? There needs to be something between doing nothing (status
             quo) and issuing a closure order. Education may be the best middle ground approach.
                       Ecological impacts may include:
                            o Hiking during mud season
                            o Dog impacts (poop, not staying on trail and impacting vegetation and wildlife)
                            o Viewshed impacts (example, does the USFS comment on projects that are not on
                                 their land such as wind towers but impact the scenery that visitors look out on
                                 when hiking Green Mountain NF trails?)
                            o Agricultural neighbor impacts (example, hikers throw Frisbee into field and it
                                 damages farm equipment)
                            o Maple sugar taps across the trail
                            o Invasive species (didymo, chervil, knotweed)
                            o Wildlife
                            o Erosion

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                                   8
Supply & Demand
NZW-SD-1      Lots of combination of trail systems in Mad River Valley (public and private with a mix of uses)
NZW-SD-2      Lack of supply is more of a motorized trail issue with snowmobiles as the exception
NZW-SD-3      Horse opportunities are increasing but mostly on private lands
              Mountain bike trails exist but many are on private land, unofficial and not publicized (allowed by
              landowner but not widely known)…need recognizable connections
NZB-SD-1      Demand for backcountry skiing has exploded in recent years.
              Other uses (emerging and traditional) that aren‟t necessarily trail based, but rely on trails for access
              to wild areas.
                             o Bird watching
                             o Geocaching
                             o Accessing water for recreation
                             o Fishing & hunting
                             o Dark skies – areas with no light pollution
                             o Disc golf
              Equestrian users are looking for luxurious types of accommodations for overnight facilities. VT
NZB-SD-3      does not currently have facilities. Many Vermonters and others in the Northeast travel to NY for
              equestrian trails and facilities. High demand/use in some places in NY.
NZB-SD-4      There are questions whether demand is really there for equestrian use in VT.
NZB-SD-5      Existing trails aren‟t very suitable for equestrian riders due to steep and wet terrain.
NZB-SD-6      LMWG should take a closer look at addressing future demand for equestrian use.
NZP-SD-1      The supply of mountain biking opportunities was considered good in the Pittsford area.
              There is a desire to connect mountain bike trails from Pittsfield to Chittenden on existing
              snowmobile trails
              There is a lack of snowmobile trailhead parking in the area, especially in the Granville and
              Hancock areas.
              There is a desire to connect snowmobile trails from Chittenden to Shrewsbury. This was
              implemented this year, but there is a need for a more sustainable route.
NZP-SD-5      There is a desire to see „no net loss‟ of trails when proposing adjustments

Trail Conflicts & Safety
              Dog mushing seems to be experiencing an expansion of use on existing trails. There may be
              potential future conflicts if the trend continues.
NZP-CS-2      There is currently a section of snowmobile trail located on a plowed road in Chittenden.
NZP-CS-3      There is a three-mile section where there is overlapping of VAST and Catamount trails
NZP-CS-4      Trails constructed for one use may be suitable for other uses
NZP-CS-5      No report of conflicts between snowmobiles, skiers and mushers in the area
              There is a need for a one-stop source for getting information and providing feedback for trail
              conditions in the state.
              There is a need to collect better data on user conflicts (how often, what types of recreation, what
              locations have higher incidences of conflict).
              It would be helpful to have a website with contact info for recreation groups so conflicts can easily
              be reported.
              The vast majority of trail users are getting along. We should not over-state conflict issues in the
              report. All at the meeting agreed.
              There are conflicts between backcountry skiers and sugarmakers in Warren, VT. Skiers have cut
NZB-CS-5      sugar lines. This conflict could worsen in the future with the State of VT encouraging/promoting
              sugar making on public lands.
NZB-CS-6      Conflicts occur between skiers with and without dogs.
              Conflicts occur between skiers with dogs and dog sleds, where dog sleds veer off the trail to follow
              other dogs.
              Multiple use trails need to be designed together by the different user groups on the front end of trail

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                                        9
             Multiple use trails really come down to user groups that are willing to cooperate. Practical realities
             of funding necessitates „cooperative use trails.‟
             CTA/skiers say the more organic matter on a trail, the better it is for freezing and skiing conditions.
NZB-CS-10    This conflicts with other trail users (such as mountain biking) where organic matter is removed
             from the trail for a durable summer surface.
             Obstacles on trails for skiers could be considered “features” for mountain bikers. Trails for both
             uses need to include detours around obstacles/features.
             Are horses allowed on winter use trails during the winter? The answer is not clear from VAST or
             other trail managers. Need to better define where and when they are allowed.
NZP-CS-1     Trails should be closed during hunting season
NZP-CS-2     Dogs (people who have them off leash and not under control)
NZP-CS-3     Sugar tap lines
NZP-CS-4     Mixed uses (example, VAST and cross country ski uses on one trail)
NZP-CS-5     ATVs where they shouldn‟t be
             Trails not constructed appropriately for uses that were added at a later date (example, hike trail that
             had bikes added to it…is it built sustainably for bikes?)
             Ancient Roads Issue…how do we prevent it from allowing Towns to open National Forest System
             lands to motorized uses on roads that were never built for modern equipment?
             Suggested way to address trail conflicts (such as bikes/hiking, or snowmobiles/skiing) & proper
             trail use is through state-wide code of ethics

Funding & Volunteers
NZW-FV-1     Volunteers need rewarded (hats, picnics, etc). GMC does a great job with this.
NZB-FV-1     Recreation groups can always use more of both.
             State manages a grant process for trail funding that is tied to the Federal Transportation
             Enhancement funds
             The Green Mountain NF does not hire trail crews like most other National Forests in the country.
NZP-FV-2     The GMNF relies heavily on partnerships (through volunteers and cost-share agreements) to
             provide the labor for trail maintenance activities.

Unauthorized & Illegal Uses
             There were around 10 areas located on the map with known unauthorized uses.
                      o ATVs off Jenny Pond Rd towards/on NFS lands
                      o ATVs on Goshen Dam Rd
                      o ATVs on Minnie Baker Trail (GMNF)
                      o Mountain bikes in Rob Ford Meadows
NZP-UI-1              o ATVs off Fassett Hill /Taylor Brook Area
                      o ATVs on Knights Hill/Hayes Brook
                      o ATVs on Ash Hill
                      o ATVs on Caryle Brook
                      o ATVs on Townsend Brook
                      o Snowmobile trail leading out to Chittenden Reservoir (from Round Robin Trail)
NZP-UI-2              o Provide more legal opportunities to ride ATVs
                      o Educate people on what is not allowed and WHY.
             Do established trails encourage or discourage additional illegal uses? Anecdotal evidence suggests
             establishing sanctioned trails will discourage illegal use. Is there research to support this?
             Mountain bikers may go off trail to gain access to “features.” Trail design could include features to
             minimize going off trail.
NZB-UI-3     Better communication/signage can educate trail users.
             Recreation groups can play an important role educating their members (the Communication and
             Stewardship Work Group is working on this).

Vermont Trails Collaborative LSWG North Zone Meetings Summary                                                    10

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