As anyone who’s been trail riding these past few years, the fact that there are more people out on the trails than ever before is self-evident. Whether on two-wheels, in the saddle, or sporting a pair of hiking boots, those enjoying the benefits of outdoor recreation has grown dramatically, and with it, the potential for user conflict. At the same time, VMBA – and many other trail advocacy groups – have recognized our lack of diversity and historical shortcomings in being adequately inclusive to anyone who might like to spend some time out on the trail.
Recognizing these realities, an unprecedented coalition of advocacy groups, brands, media outlets, and ambassadors have come together over the past few months to create a public awareness and user education campaign. Launching this week, the Trails are Common Ground campaign communicates our collective responsibility to create respectful, inclusive, safe, and enjoyable experiences for everyone out there on the trails. VMBA was invited to participate in helping shape the campaign, and joins a coalition that now includes more than thirty user-group organizations, from the American Trail Running Association to the Back Country Horsemen of America to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, as well as groups like Navajo Yes and Latino Outdoors, who represent groups the campaign seeks to more actively invite to participate in outdoor recreation.
For VMBA, Trails are Common Ground represents a our ambition as an organization to not only peacefully share Vermont’s incredible wealth of outdoor resources with runners, hikers, motorized-users, and equestrians, but to also double-down on making our state a more inclusive place to recreate in the woods. It’s worth noting, too, that individual trail access still varies and is up to land owner or manager discretion, and that sometimes, the best way to share the woods and enable enjoyable, safe experiences is through user group specific trails.
As this coalition grows and the campaign gains momentum, be on the lookout for more messaging and information, both online and at your favorite trailhead. Our hope is that as outdoor recreation continues to grow, we can make our trail systems even more inviting and inclusive.
Check out the Press Release to learn more.