So I've been working on maintaining and rerouting trails on the Moretown 
Town/School Land for three years now. In 2002, I started by making a 
proposal to the Selectboard, School Board and Planning Commission for 
legitimizing the trails for non-motorized uses, mainly in the summer, fall 
and winter, including biking, hiking, snowshoeing and skiing. The two 
property owners (Town and School) agreed to let me do the work 
immediately, but the Planning Commission wanted more. Through this 
process, I ended up joining the PC and further refining the proposal to 
their (our) satisfaction, among other fun duties, like revising zoning 

Well fast forward to this month. The local landfill, MLI, in order to 
expand its size, needs to mitigate the impacts this expansion will have on 
winter deeryard on their property. As migitation, MLI proposed to Moretown 
a purchase of the development rights for the heart of the Town/School 
Land. In exchange for this conservation easement, the Town would get 
$100,000 and we have been offered a lease for a much-needed site for the 
Town Garage for $1 a year. 

Sounds awesome, right? Moretown conserves the land, gets some cash and a 
cheap place to put the Garage. Well, the devil is always in the details.

I won't get into the politics of the situation, but some of the easement 
stipulations raised concerns among many Moretown residents. For example, 
no more biking, despite the fact that the easement protects a "winter" 
deeryard. The document uses the "mechanized" defense to justify the 

Russ Barrett, Washington County Forester, stated at a public meeting in 
Moretown last week that summer recreation does not affect winter deer 
yards. Last I checked, mountain biking is not a threat to Vermont's deer 
herd. Yet, this is language common to all ANR-approved deeryard mitigation 
easements in Vermont.

Even more disturbing is the ban on skiing and the maintenance of ski 
trails. Snowshoeing is permitted and there is some discussion of wildlife-
based recreation being a priority, but how can ANR claim that skiers 
aren't there because of nature? Or bikers, for that matter? 

This is one of my favorite spots for mushroom hunting and I always go on 
my bike. I know lots of people who ski and look at animal tracks. The deer 
don't care how you got there. 

While the language doesn't come right out and lump skiing in with 
mechanized use, i.e. biking, it does exclude it in  the same way. This 
language is also common to all deeryard mitigation easements in Vermont.

I've been involved in trail access advocacy VT for almost 15 years and 
this was news to me. I'm certain it's news to you all too. This deal is 
not about the Town Garage vs. bikers and skiers or conservation vs. 
recreation. It is about making sure Moretown doesn't kill the goose that 
laid the golden egg. But there are larger implications behind this that 
affect potentially large areas of Vermont in perpetuity. What do you all 




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