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SNOWMOBILING ON VERMONT'S FEDERAL LANDS

Vermont's 6,500-mile snowmobile trail network, maintained and operated by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers and its associated member clubs, includes several hundred miles of trail on the Green Mountain National Forest and nearly the entire road system of the Nulhegan Basin, part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

In both areas, snowmobile use has been occurring for years in the absence of the environmental impact analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Previous calls for such analysis by conservation groups have been met almost entirely with silence and inaction. Meanwhile, project proposals on these federal lands — including plans for snowmobile trail relocations and further expansion — move forward with no examination of these activities’ cumulative effects on wildlife, water, air, and ecological integrity.

Given the abundance of scientific literature documenting the harmful effects of snowmobiles on the environment, the Center finds the current policies of the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unacceptable. We aim to protect Vermont’s public lands from the harmful effects of widespread, unmanaged, and intensive snowmobile recreation, bringing about change in snowmobile recreation policy on both the state’s national wildlife refuge and its national forest. Our goals are to bring the federal land agencies into compliance with the law and to better regulate and minimize the damaging effects of snowmobiling on habitat, biodiversity, and other key values of public lands, such as clean air and water and opportunities for quiet, non-motorized recreation.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/Alexandre Quillet