U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recently announced the 2014 Chief's Honor Awards recipients. The staff of Green Mountain National Forest, along with multiple partners and local businesses, received an award for promoting recreation opportunities in the Mad River Valley.

Vermont Mountain Bike Association, Mad River Riders, Mad River Valley Planning District and a private donor are key partners in the Blueberry Lake project. The result of collaborative efforts includes construction of over five miles of sustainably designed mountain bike trails, with an additional one and one-half miles ready for construction funding.

The trails are designed and constructed by Sustainable Trailworks, LLC, with contributions from Mad River Riders and Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, funded through state of Vermont Recreational Trails Program grants. The trail system has been recognized by a national mountain biking magazine, Dirt Rag, in addition to receiving an IMBA award for providing riding experiences for varied skill levels.

Over 450 volunteer hours, including time from Yestermorrow, Charlie Brown, Lenord Robinson, Green Mountain Valley School and Mad River Riders, have assisted with improvements in the Blueberry Lake area.

At a December ceremony, Chief Tidwell acknowledged the outstanding collaborative effort exhibited between forest service employees, four partner organizations, individual volunteers, state and local government representatives and local businesses to promote and enhance recreational resources in the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF).

Holly Knox, recreation program coordinator for the Rochester and Middlebury districts, traveled to D.C. to accept the award on behalf of the 17 volunteers and partners named in the nomination. "Recreation is the portal for understanding and caring for natural resources and public lands and community engagement is essential for creating a sustainable recreation program on the GMNF," said Knox.

Chris Mattrick, district ranger in charge of the section of national forest stretching from Route 4 to Sugarbush Resort, noted that "With 156 National Forests and Grasslands under the care of the U.S. Forest Service, there is intense competition for these awards. We're extremely proud of this recognition and all the work accomplished with our dedicated partners and volunteers."

2014 Chief's Honor Award Recipients - Blueberry Lake and Warren Falls - Green Mountain National Forest

John Atkinson, volunteer, Mad River Riders; Hardy Avery, Sustainable Trailworks LLC; Charlie Brown, volunteer; Thomas Hark, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps; Harvey's Plumbing and Excavating LLC; Kate Hilfiker, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps; Josh Hulett, State of Vermont Agency of Transportation; Mad River Riders Vermont Mountain Bike Association Chapter; Paul Keegan, State of Vermont Agency of Transportation; Patrick Kell, International Mountain Bike Association; Caitrin Maloney, Friends of the Mad River; Lenord Robinson, volunteer; Paul Schmidt, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps; Joshua Schwartz, Mad River Valley Planning District; Win Smith, Sugarbush Resort; Tom Stuessy, Vermont Mountain Bike Association; Yestermorrow Design and Build School; Brian Austin, Forest Service; Mary Brown, Forest Service Technical Services Team; Dundonald Cochrane III, Forest Service; Seth Coffey, Forest Service; Holly Knox, Forest Service; Kurt Kretvix, Forest Service Technical Services Team; David Nulsen, Forest Service.