The Mad River Valley Recreation District (MRVRD) is working to make The Valley a viable destination for recreation. While the district has received support from Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston for many years, more needs to be done.

This year at the Mad River Valley Town Leadership Meeting in which select boards from Waitsfield, Warren, Fayston, Moretown and Duxbury came together to hear from community organizations, the recreation district asked for an additional $25,500 from its three member towns for new maps, kiosks and a trail signage project.

Rec district board members explained the importance of uniform messaging and trail signage for a user-friendly experience and stated that The Valley has some of the highest quality trails in Vermont, but visitors need to know how to access the trails and who maintains them – hence the need for uniform signage.

Rec district board member Luke Foley explained that the MRVRD will ask for a staff member in the future but not yet as the board is mindful of member town’s tight budgets.

However, as the recreation district’s member towns could probably tell you, a larger investment in recreation is needed if The Valley is going to compete with our neighbors Waterbury and Stowe and the more-distant Killington and Northeast Kingdom.

Regardless of whether The Valley wants to be like Killington or Stowe, the fact is that recreation represents one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the state, one that brings visitors to play outside, eat in our restaurants, shop in our businesses and stay in our lodging establishments.

Over the years select boards, community workshops and economic studies have pinpointed recreation as The Valley’s major attraction and active residents are aware that recreational opportunities extend far beyond Sugarbush and Mad River Glen. Yet the Mad River Valley spends less money on recreation per capita than our competitors, and it’s not even close.

Community organizations pick up a lot of the slack and The Valley has thrived on the backs of volunteers, but at some point it will take more than they can provide. If The Valley is to succeed with recreation as an economic driver, more needs to be done.

It’s an investment in our future.