High Honor in the Valley

Mad River Riders and Community Partners Win USFS National Award for Blueberry Lake Trails – GMNF

January 20, 2015

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

The 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 include construction of over 5 miles of sustainably designed mountain bike trails, with an additional 1.5 miles ready for construction funding.

The trails are designed and constructed by Sustainable Trailworks, LLC, with contributions from the Mad River Riders and the 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, Leonard Robinson, Green Mountain Valley School and the 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 on 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 Ski Area noted that “With 156 National Forests and Grasslands under the care of the US 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 Recepients – 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

Harveys 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

Leonard 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