Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Snowmobilers contribute to the community

Some may ask themselves during the winter months, “Who are snowmobilers?” Despite the few people who have been portraying a negative image targeting snowmobile riders, these riders are everywhere around you. They are grandkids, parents, grandparents, children, firefighters, nurses, business owners, teachers, governors, Veterans, CEOs, police officers, delivery drivers, and more commonly, your Vermont neighbors. They are hardworking people who spend their time with friends and family while out on the trail.

Vermont offers so many natural gifts, and being outside during the winter months is one of the best places to enjoy some of them. Many snowmobilers seek to enjoy Vermont wildlife and hidden landscapes scattered throughout our state. The many miles of VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers) trail system lead to many places impassible by other modes of transportation and only accessible by snowmobile. These same trails create an impressive network for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and hikers.

When my children were young, my family and 5-6 neighboring families would get together and ride from Bristol to Silver Lake to have a winter cookout. This was a time our families grew to look forward to year after year and was a time no one will ever forget. Now that my children are grown, I cherish those memories and hope other families have taken on similar traditions.

In addition to being able to visit Vermont’s beauty and creating memories, Vermont snowmobiling puts over $550 million into the Vermont economy, which trickles down and helps all Vermonters. This financially targets restaurants, hotels, gas stations, mom-and-pop convenience stores, and sports businesses, all of which are mainly owned by your neighbors and fellow Vermonters. The economic impact from snowmobilers supports business owners and all their employees from cashiers, to chefs, to delivery drivers, to cooks, waitstaff, salespeople, mechanics, etc. The money directly pays for mortgages, rent, food, taxes and clothes for their families. Snowmobilers help all towns directly and indirectly within the state of Vermont.

Speaking on behalf of snowmobilers, I would like to shout a big thank you to landowners, towns, the state of Vermont, and the national forest department for the use of their lands. If it wasn’t for them, snowmobiling in Vermont would not be possible. We greatly appreciate how they recognize the importance of snowmobiling in Vermont and its impact on our Vermont economy. The VAST trail system consists of five components that make up the trail network:

  • Town forest trails — 25 miles.
  • Class IV town roads — 250 miles.
  • Green Mountain National Forest — 505 miles.
  • State Land — 360 miles.
  • Privately Owned Land — 3,560 miles.

I would encourage more of you to get outside during the winter months to enjoy the beautiful state we live in with your neighbors and families.

Lewis Barnes

President, Mt. Abe Snowsports

Addison County Director, VAST

Bristol

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