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Unread 02-20-2013, 04:03 PM   #1
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Building camaraderie and trails in Vermont

By Dani Cadi, operations director, Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association

The Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association—a statewide association of ATV clubs—is authorized by the state to develop ATV trails throughout Vermont, and the association is hard at work doing that.

VASA is dedicated to developing, promoting and conserving responsible family-based ATV recreation throughout Vermont and is providing trail access through leadership, land stewardship, partnerships and collaborations with other user groups and landowners.

In 1998, there were almost no “legal” ATV trails in Vermont. VASA was formed out of necessity that year to control renegade and illegal ATV activity while also working to provide responsible riders with legal riding opportunities.

At its birth, VASA was operated completely by volunteers. As the years went by and volunteers poured their time and energy into the association, VASA grew. At its inception, there were fewer than 50 miles of legal trails in only one county of the state. Today, we are proud to report that we have trail systems in every county totaling more than 750 miles.

VASA also employs two full-time staff members, as well as a lobbyist/consultant to represent ATV issues at the statehouse.

VASA has grown in so many ways—membership, trails, volunteers, programs, participation, awareness and respect. Obtaining liability insurance was once a huge hurdle for the organization, but we have successfully maintained a policy for more than a decade.

Vermont is known for being a very “green” state. Often ATV recreation is looked down upon or criticized for all of the usual reasons, pollution, noise, land damage, etc. VASA has worked so hard to change these views.

ATVs have always been banned from riding on any and all state land, but we have been working closely with the state to develop a licensing agreement for connector trails. The proposed use of state land has been quite a battle for some time now, but progress is being made and pilot projects are in the works right now.

We currently partner with many different state and national associations, forming very productive relationships.

VASA currently has 22 local clubs located throughout the state. Each club is completely staffed by volunteers and each club builds and maintains its own trail systems.

Clubs hold their own events and rides and recently started coming together for an annual statewide event. VASA now hosts “THE BIG EVENT” every year in August. This is a great event that includes a poker run, mud bogs, ATV pulls, and new this year, an obstacle course.

In 2010, VASA staff and volunteers put together a state- approved safety program called VEST: VASA Safety Education & Training. VEST is a comprehensive, classroom-style safety course taught by certified and experienced instructors. Since VEST’s inception, hundreds of Vermont youth have been certified to ride ATVs.

In the past 14 years, VASA has progressed by leaps and bounds. Responsible ATVers who become active in their local clubs, practice good ATV ethics and present a good image of our sport are what is allowing us to make this progress.

If you love ATVing, and you are a responsible rider, we’d love for you to come experience our trails here in Vermont. We want everyone to see the work we have accomplished and experience the beauty and fun that is riding in Vermont.

For more information about VASA, please visit www.vtvasa.org, email office@vtvasa.org, or give us a call at (802) 477-5075.

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