MONTPELIER — The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers has reached an agreement with two state agencies concerning the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail use and regulations.
“Vermont Association of Snow Travelers is very happy to have reached this agreement with the Natural Resources Board and Vermont Agency of Transportation,” said Cindy Locke, executive director of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers. “The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail should be exempt from ACT 250 through the federal railbanking program … Those that steward these trails actually do more good by properly maintaining them and their use is a benefit to Vermont as a place of recreation, wellness and education.” The agreement calls for the association to follow environmental laws.
The association generates $500 million a year in Vermont and owes much of this to over 8,000 landowners, including land owned by the state of Vermont and the U.S. government, that allow winter trails on their property.
In the conditional settlement, negotiated in part by the attorney general’s office, the state will put aside Act 250 jurisdiction over the trail, but, in exchange, the association must agree to amend the current lease with the Vermont Agency of Transportation to include “substantive conditions” from the permit. The state will also post the agreement online and seek public comment.
The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail is a four-season recreation destination. In early 2017, conversion of the 93-mile historic railbed across northern Vermont moved into a new phase. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers’ lease agreement with the Vermont Agency of Transportation to convert and steward the trail was renewed for an additional 10 years. Under this agreement, the agency will provide 80 percent of the $12 to $15 million of construction funding necessary to complete the trail. This is contingent upon that the association raising the remaining 20 percent from other sources. Go to www.lvrt.org for more information.