Why Your Comment Matters

Telephone Gap IRP

Mark Clement (@markjclement)

As part of its long-term management of the Green Mountain National Forest, The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) develops Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) that incorporate the full spectrum of management activities across a large geographic area, which allows for a comprehensive approach to achieve the goals, objectives, and desired future conditions laid out in the 2006 Green Mountain National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. Given their size and scope, IRPs are complicated – albeit critical – in shaping the future of our public land.

Presently, the USFS is developing the Telephone Gap IRP, which spans the Rochester and Middlebury Ranger Districts and includes the towns of Chittenden, Killington, Mendon, Pittsfield, and small portions of Brandon, Goshen, Pittsford, and Stockbridge. Over 1,600 public comments were received in response to the Telephone Gap project Notice of Proposed Action and Opportunity to Comment document during the initial January 2023 45-day comment period, which were then used to modify the proposed action and develop additional action alternatives to include for detailed analysis in a Preliminary Environmental Assessment, which was recently published. The USFS is now accepting comments on this Assessment.

VMBA has worked alongside our local Chapters and sister stewardship organizations including Vermont Huts, Catamount Trail Association, and the Green Mountain Club, and in collaboration with the USFS, to envision nearly 35 new miles of trail managed for mountain biking. Through a combination of new construction, relocation, as well as co-location and redesignation, these new trail miles will create essential connectivity for both the Velomont and Catamount Trails. Beyond outdoor recreation, our organizations also worked closely with the Forest Service and outside organizations like the Trust for Public Land to advance conservation and wildlife protection efforts in this action plan.

A detailed description of the proposal can be found on the Telephone Gap Project Website, along with an online “Story Map” that provides a visual presentation to complement the written narrative. We encourage you to review and become familiar with the proposed plan and weigh in with your comments – ideally offering support for the included plans for sustainable recreational trails and backcountry hut. Comments can be submitted online until April 8th 2024. See below the letter VMBA has submitted, which we encourage you to use or modify as you see fit.

Without public support for actions proposed in public land management plans, proposed ideas and plans are unlikely to come to fruition. It is our responsibility, working alongside public land managers, to come up with the plans to grow and improve recreational access, but we need you to voice your support to make them a reality. Please submit your comment today.

District Ranger Mattrick,

On behalf of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association and our 9,600+ individual members, I’m writing to express my continued strong support for the U.S. Forest Services’ proposal to provide sustainable recreation opportunities within the Telephone Gap IRP area and the trail modifications to the original proposal included in Alternatives B,C, and D. The 17+ miles of new trail construction, Velomont designation to an existing 13+ of roads and trails, and additional trail relocations and improvements will provide critical connectivity for various user groups, including those on the Velomont Trail and Catamount Trail. 

Additionally, I support the continued incorporation of a special use permit for Vermont Huts Association to construct, operate, and maintain a four-season hut within the footprint of the former lodge that was destroyed by a fire near South Pond. A hut in this location takes advantage of existing infrastructure and is ideally situated to host users of the trails mentioned above, creating a new point of access to the outdoors for trail users of all ages and abilities.

Thank you and the U.S. Forest Service staff for thoughtfully pursuing the goals, objectives, and desired future conditions laid out in the 2006 Green Mountain National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, and for your ongoing collaboration with the recreational stewardship community.

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