The Backcountry Future: VT BC Forum

As wet snow fell at high elevations last night, the vibe inside Rochester, Vt.’s Pierce Hall Community Center was of exciting things to come. The evening marked the second-annual meeting of the Vermont Backcountry Forum, hosted by the Catamount Trail Association (CTA), the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) and the Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA), and more than 200 skiers and riders packed the historic hall in central Vermont to talk about backcountry opportunity in the state.

“We’re thinking about the future. We care about the future, and that’s why we’re here, and that’s why we’re getting organized,” photographer and VTBC volunteer Brian Mohr said to kick off the night.

Following a potluck, the program started with VTBC, CTA and RASTA volunteers sharing projects that were initiated during last year’s Forum. Forester Dun Cochrane presented findings from a spring survey of more than 500 backcountry skiers and riders; VTBC volunteer Ned Houston addressed bc ethics; and a group of RASTA volunteers presented their fall project—clearing and maintaining glades on a 1,500-acre parcel of Rochester-area land donated by Paul Kendall to the New England Forestry Foundation. Other noteworthy announcements included mentions of developing backcountry glades on Sterling Ridge near Stowe and Sugarbush’s approval for uphill traffic on Mt. Ellen.

After the presentations, the Pierce Hall attendees divided into brainstorming groups to address developing backcountry zones on state and other lands, economic development opportunities and partnerships worth exploring.

“Here in RASTA country, we’ve got the future of Vermont bc in our hands,” Mohr said. “This is amazing,” Ned Houston added, “What a tribe.”

For more on the Vermont Backcountry Alliance and the forum, visit vtbc.org.

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