Last month, at a meeting of the Mad River Trails Collaborative there was a discussion about the Community Recreation Visioning process that is currently underway as part of the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative grant which The Valley received in 2022.
This $409,000 grant was awarded to the Mad River Valley Recreation District as a result of a partnership between the rec district and many local community organizations including the chamber, Mad River Riders, Mad River Path, Friends of the Mad River and others.
As part of the Community Recreation Visioning (CRV) process, a 15-person steering committee has been created whose goal is to identify a gold standard for recreation in The Valley that balances the need to protect sensitive deep woods habitat and pristine headwaters with a goal of maximizing recreational opportunities where they are appropriate.
Those people are split into two working groups, one addressing the issue of ecological integrity and the other focused on recreation and trails. A project coordinator, Emily Friedman, has been hired and is working with the two groups helping sort through existing data and studies.
As part of the discussion and update at last month’s trails collaborative meeting, Ross Saxton, outgoing director of the Mad River Path stressed the importance of communicating the CRV work with the community and referenced a letter to The Valley Reporter that raised concerns about Vermont land management plan for Phen Basin that included mountain biking in a conserved area. Saxton pointed out that the Mad River Riders are no longer pursing trails in that area and warned that misinformation can put people on the conservation side and the recreation side “when in fact, we’re all on the same side. There are no sides.”
“What we’re trying to achieve with this CRV process is that we all have common interests regardless of what your recreation or conservation perspectives are,” Saxton added.
He’s right. There are no sides, nor should there be. The CRV work continues and public outreach will begin soon so that the public can also help create the gold standard for recreation in our community that protects the ecological integrity of our uninhabited woods and ridges.