Backcountry ski and ride project in Willoughby State Forest expands

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — The Northeast Kingdom Backcountry Coalition, also known as NEKBC for short, is updating its pilot backcountry ski and ride project in the Willoughby State Forest.

The coalition began working with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation in the fall of 2016 to design and develop winter backcountry recreation opportunities that supplement the existing ski and snowshoe trail network in the Willoughby State Forest.

The project is the first of its kind on state lands to provide access and manage vegetation to provide backcountry snow sports for the public.

NEKBC says they are committed to creating legitimate and sustainable backcountry routes and hopes to stop rogue and illegal cutting on state and private lands.

Most recently, the coalition has been working closely with specialist Luke O’Brien, who is one of several such professionals across the state recently hired to work closely with partners, volunteers, and contractors on outdoor recreation projects on state lands, including sustainable trail development and maintenance, assessment and monitoring of recreation sites, and promoting sustainable outdoor recreation activities.

The collaborative project has resulted in the design of backcountry zones that include ski lines on Mt. Hor, and Bartlett Mountain.

Also developed is a network of uphill tracks to connect to the parking lot on Route 5A and the various backcountry zones.

These improvements complement the existing 12k network of groomed Nordic ski trails offered in the Willoughby State Forest.

The group says they continue to work to identify, mark, clear, and monitor trails to create a sustainable backcountry trail system in the forest.

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