Keep Waterworks Road and Winter Recreational Access from Stowe & Waterbury Open
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In 2013, the Stowe Selectboard voted to close Winter access along a class 4 road (commonly referred to as the Waterworks Rd) that links Stowe residents and the outdoor recreational community with public lands held by the local towns and VT Department of Forests, Parks, & Recreation (DFPR). This road runs through both communities and Waterbury residents have historically never voiced any issues or had complaints regarding traffic or need for closure due to the occasional door knocks from lost vacationers.
The Mt. Hunger hiking trailhead is located on the South side of the Waterworks road and is a primary access skinup trail for backcountry skiers and riders looking to explore the Skyline ridge, Headwaters basin, and Hunger ravines. Local residents and neighbors on both sides of these town boundaries were never notified or surveyed with respect to the undue hardship this closure would cause to their lives.
The Selectboard closed the road at the time due to a petition by a Stowe resident, Marc Segal... who petitioned the Selectboard citing it would cause "no undue hardship" to local Stowe and Waterbury residents and outdoor recreation seekers looking to launch an experience in the Worcester Range Headwaters.
After general inquiry and background investigation, the local rumor that the closure was related to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and flooding prevention policies was laid to rest as the explanation why the gates were erected in 2014. With the winter passage restrictions not being an irreversible decision in the minds of local neighbors, the Worcester Range Collective was contacted about helping to keep access open.
While we are all volunteers and are still laying down our organizational roots, WRC members have been volunteering in the Worcester mountains for 20+ years working to keep trails clear, cut, and accessible. We have recently been in contact with the town planners and managers in order to work towards keeping these public lands open to the community at-large. Waterbury will not prevent our efforts to maintain safe passage and volunteer our winter maintenance crew if the petitioners agree to comply with Stowe's maintenance requirements and standards on this front.
By way of this petition we hope to convince the Stowe Selectboard of the importance in keeping the Waterworks road permanently open and maintained by a licensed and insured contractor per logistics and standards required. The WRC will be fundraising to support these activities outside of the existing town budgeted road activities and this action will come at no additional expense to Stowe or Waterbury taxpayers.
Over a 50 year arc, the Waterworks road has been extensively used by locals for work commutes, school/educator commutes, quicker access to downtown Stowe, as well as jobs at Stowe Resort including: Ski/board Ambassadors, product testers, and team riders.
Agricultural uses of the road include moving tractors around various neighbors' fields and the transfer of hay around farms in the Summer/Fall & the transport of bulk maple sap during sugaring season in March/April.
And then there is the recreational access use of the Waterworks. In Winter, the trailheads are used for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and winter camping from typically the end of deer season through to Spring melt-off. Of course there is also the epic hiking and mountain biking trails in the warmer months. The WRC would also like to proactively work with the towns to create safer all-season passage and parking in the future that eradicates all future objections to maintaining year round access.
The reality is that the road is getting used increasingly more by visitors to Stowe and Waterbury looking to access the backcountry / split-board experience in the Worcester mountains. WRC members have long been trail adopters with the DFPR and GMC among many other organizations and associations working to keep public trails open and available on state lands for the benefit of all. The WRC's current focus however is in partnering with public agencies and local residents to expand the network of public access trails throughout the entire Worcester Mountain Range- not just in one town or the other, but collectively with an eye towards the broader ecosystem dynamics of the range as a whole.
As an organization currently seeking non-profit status, any donations by way of membership fees or outright gifts are not currently tax-deductible but are necessary in order for us to keep this backcountry access road open.
Please sign the petition and consider supporting the organization so we can keep access open for all. Without your support, these kinds of land development / use conflicts will only increase- we instead look forward to working together to create a sum better than the individual parts. Please help to keep public access recreation open to all residents and visitors to our communities.
We encourage you to attend the Stowe Selectboard meeting (12/21/16 slotted for 5:40). Also please share this to any registered full-time resident voters you may know in Stowe and Waterbury, or just get in touch with us if you are interested in helping out further.
-The Worcester Range Collective
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