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MRV Trail Collaborative discusses goals for future

Members of the newly formed Mad River Valley Trail Collaborative met Monday, January 25, to develop a vision for existing trails, discuss goals for conservation, and to discuss objectives and potential projects.

Mad River Valley Planning District director Joshua Schwartz said that the kickoff event was intended to enhance networking and facilitate a discussion about the group's vision for the existing trails and resources in The Valley.

"I wanted to make sure that the work we're doing is collaborative and connected; being in the same room together is the first step," he said.

Likely the next step, according to Schwartz, would be to form a smaller steering committee that would meet more frequently to identify potential projects and funding sources and create a list of goals for existing trails.

MRVPD steering committee member and Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce board member Jim Halavonich said that he would "like to see a group formed out of this group so that [Schwartz] can at some point exit out as leader."

The group also discussed the potential for a collaborative trail map effort across several organizations represented at the meeting, including the Catamount Trail Association, VAST and the Mad River Path Association.

"From the chamber side, I'd like the ability to sell The Valley's walking, skiing and biking paths as something we can be handing out to them to enhance their experience and entice them to return," Halavonich said.

Chamber director Susan Klein also identified the need for what she called a "more cohesive resource that we could then use to promote through madrivervalley.com."

"I'd like to see an overlay-type map," she continued.

Organization representatives listed specific goals they'd like to see discussed as a result of the event. Friends of the Mad River watershed coordinator Caitrin Noel said she would like to "look at the sustainability of trails; river access is important to the Friends. From the Warren Conservation Commission, we'd like more trail mapping to be available to people so they can enjoy our trails."

Fayston Zoning Administrator Patti Greene-Swift said that she would like to see town forest land included on trail maps: "The idea is to share that with the larger community, so they could pick up a path map that identified that in certain areas you are going to see certain things."

In review, Schwartz said that the goals of the steering committee would be mapping and taking inventory of "what is here" with a fuller picture of the trail network, as well as integrate and coordinate the different efforts, join forces but "make sure not to reinvent the wheel."

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