Fall field photo by Jeff Knight

Last June, the Mad River Valley Conservation and Recreation Visioning (CRV) steering committee hosted the first in a series of community forums. The second one will take place on Weds., May 29 at the Lareau Farm Pavilion. The event starts with a potluck at 5:00 p.m. and the meeting from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.





The CRV project began in summer 2022 with a Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) grant to facilitate connecting The Valley’s recreation areas with the Waitsfield business district via a bridge over the Mill Brook behind the Localfolk Smokehouse property in Waitsfield. As part of that grant work representatives from 15 different local recreation and conservation groups began meeting with the goal of developing maps, shared goals, guiding principles, and best practices to provide a vision for balancing ecological integrity with recreation and trails across The Valley.

During the winter, CRV hosted two community learning sessions at the Valley Players Theater. In December there was an overview of recreation and ecology and in February there was a session about the impact of trails on wildlife.

Arrowwood Environmental, Huntington, was hired last fall to compile Phase 1 ecological and recreational information. That information includes research and studies from other states, natural resource inventories here in The Valley, maps of existing trails, recreational use data, and more. Some of these resources are listed on the CRV page at mrvrd.org. Using that content, Arrowwood has assembled a preliminary series of data layers (map format), an online tool to view them individually or in different combinations, informational summaries, and a list of sensitive ecological features present in the watershed.

This information will be shared with the public at the May 29 public forum, along with a written summary of current conditions related to ecological attributes and recreational resources being developed by the Steering Committee. The current conditions document includes ecological features and trails, and acts as a snapshot in time about what currently exists. CRV participants will use the current conditions document Phase 2 of this work gets underway, which includes articulating a shared vision for the future and draft opportunity areas map(s).




After the May 29 forum, as the work shifts into discussing desired future conditions and management techniques for achieving them, the full steering committee will meet monthly to create the components of the grant deliverables. During this phase members will bring drafts back to their organizations and drafts will be made available to the public for input from the community. The CRV leadership team includes the co-chairs of the steering committee, Laura Arnesen, MRVRD and Phil Huffman, Waitsfield Conservation Commission; and Ira Shadis, Friends of the Mad River.  Alice Rodgers, MRVRD board chair, and CRV project manager Emily Friedman act in advisory capacities.

Organizers anticipate having a third community forum in late summer or early fall.

As part of the VOREC grant, CRV has committed to specific deliverables. The first of these is a set of Opportunity Area(s) Maps. These maps - data sets-  illustrate the CRV vision geographically. They will identify possible areas of opportunity for outdoor recreation, and natural resources. The maps will be supported by a written document which will provide context for the mapping and describe its intended uses.

VOREC funding for CRV ends on December 31, 2024, when grant deliverables are due, but CRV will continue after that point. Organizers point out that this grant-funded period is the first step in an on-going effort in the Mad River Valley to harmonize outdoor recreation and ecological integrity.  For more information or to sign up for the CRV email list,  contact Emily Friedman, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..