Green Mountains Forever

WWA Grassroots Group Catamount Trail Association Doubles Down on Conservation and Backcountry Access in Vermont

Photo Credit: Greg Maino, CTA; Looking out toward Mount Mansfield from Bolton Valley, occupied lands of the Abenaki.

*This article was featured in our Trail Break – Fall 2021 edition

For the last 37 years, the Catamount Trail Association (CTA), a long-time grassroots partner of Winter Wildlands Alliance, has been developing and maintaining backcountry terrain in the Green Mountains of Vermont. They got their start in 1984 with the creation of North America’s longest backcountry ski trail, the Catamount Trail (CT). Today they continue to steward the CT, have added a number of side trails, and also manage an expanding collection of downhill oriented backcountry zones throughout the state of Vermont with the help of their chapters.

The CTA is also heavily involved in conservation efforts to permanently protect Vermont’s mountain lands, and for the last 10 years have been offering free learn-to- ski youth programs to reduce barriers to outdoor recreation for less advantaged young Vermonters, helping them better connect with the local environment, and show them the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle.

While the CTA’s footprint in Vermont is significant, it’s run by a very small, committed, crew. At the end of August they welcomed Courtney Dickerson to the team, increasing their full-time staff from two to three. Courtney spent the previous two years working at the CTA through the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board AmeriCorps Program. During these two years Courtney brought new energy to the CTA’s programs. She helped identify new conservation opportunities and contributed to expanding the CTA’s project pipeline. She also grew youth program participation from around 200 participants per year to well over 800.

Courtney’s addition reflects the CTA’s focus and commitment to expanding access to outdoor experiences. With her on board, the CTA aims to more than double participation in youth programs over the next three years while maintaining their commitment to offer these opportunities for free to every participant.

Courtney will also continue to push forward a number of exciting conservation projects that would protect both the Catamount Trail and backcountry skiing access for future shredders. Conservation plays a key role in facilitating sustainable access to backcountry skiing in Vermont, a state where 80% of the land is privately owned. Many access points, trail corridors, and even high elevation summits and ridge lines are privately held, meaning access to many of Vermont’s most treasured spaces are subject to yearly landowner permission and handshake agreements.

Outdoor experiences have the potential to unite us all, and by working to ensure as many people as possible have access to these opportunities the CTA has, and will continue to have, an impact that goes beyond skiing, helping to ensure a vibrant future for outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship in Vermont.

Photo Credit: Greg Maino, CTA (Vermont)

Photo Credit: Matt William, CTA (Vermont)

Photo Credit: Greg Maino, CTA (Vermont)

Photo Credit: Greg Maino, CTA (Vermont)