All-terrain vehicles, better known as ATVs, are currently banned from use on state lands in Vermont. But that outright prohibition could change with the passage of a new rule now under consideration.
The proposed rule would allow the secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources to designate connector trails for use by ATVs on public lands owned by the agency. The trails would be used as links between established Vermont All Terrain Vehicle Sportsman’s Association (VASA) trails on adjacent private or public lands. Specifically, the proposed rule would also establish an ATV connector trail on a portion of the 7,988-acre Les Newell Wildlife Management Area, in Stockbridge.
The Central Vermont Quad Runners ATV Club of Windham County requested use of an existing trail in the Les Newell Wildlife Management Area. In a proposal the group states the trail "is needed to provide a safe off-highway vehicle trail connection from Stony Brook Road to Boutwell Road."
If adopted, the new rule would:
- Allow the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources to designated areas for use by all-terrain vehicles (ATV) on public lands. The designation of trails for ATVs would be only for the purpose of connecting established VASA trails that occur on private or public lands.
- Establish criteria by which connector trails may be designated and outline the process of petitioning for designation, including petitioners' responsibilities.
- Describe the rulemaking process, the designation process, as well as circumstances for closing designated trails.
- Establish Les Newell connector trail for ATV use under specific terms and conditions.
Two public hearings will be held on the proposed rule. The first hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16, at 6:30 p.m., at Pavilion Auditorium, 109 State Street, Montpelier. The second hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, September 24 at Bethel Elementary School, 237 Pleasant Street, Bethel.
The public comment period on the proposed rule is open until October 1. Comments or questions can emailed or mailed to: Catherine Gjessing, General Counsel Vermont Fish & Wildlife; 1 National Life Building, Davis 2; Montpelier, VT 05620-3702.