Published on November 1st, 2012 | by Sky Barsch0
Paying for Playing
In this issue, we have a piece about the effort to save the Bolton backcountry, the 1,161-acre tract of land that includes Bolton’s gorgeous Nordic trails and backcountry ski access. Access to this gem was in question when an interested buyer intended to close the land to skiers. As you’ll read in Sarah Galbraith’s story, the Vermont Land Trust is spearheading an effort to buy the land and make it publicly accessible forever.
This story has me thinking deeply about access to land. The interested buyer isn’t the bad guy here—while the decision to close land to skiing was a punch in the gut, all of us, while we may not have the financial resources, have the same right to make an offer on land. And we can’t expect private land to be accessible forever. It’s our jobs, as passionate outdoors people, as people who care about the environment, and as members of a democracy, to contribute to public policy discussions and support the organizations working on our behalf. Public radio nails it when they say, If you’re listening, then public radio is important to you, and you use it (so donate). Likewise, if we’re using land for recreation, we shouldn’t take it for granted. Helping to purchase land, like in this case, and helping to maintain already public land, is our duty. And while real dollars make a big difference, support doesn’t have to be financial—going to public hearings and having your voice heard, writing to decision-makers, volunteering, and participating in fundraising auctions or events are all important ways of contributing. Shopping at businesses who make investments in what is important to you is another way of contributing. For instance, Onion River Sports has donated a $1,000 shopping spree that will be raffled off and Outdoor Gear Exchange is hosting a film night with proceeds supporting the Bolton purchase.
Having access to the outdoors isn’t strictly a personal matter either. As policy makers continue to struggle with what to do about Vermont’s aging population, and try to recruit skilled, young professionals to come here to work, Vermont’s outdoors can be a key component. So access to the outdoors is an economic issue. I’m a young professional who came from out of state, and I choose to live and work in Vermont, largely because I can get a quick ski in before going to work, hike to view a sunset with very little driving or planning, and at a lot of Vermont businesses, it’s understood that some employees will come down with colds on powder days.
We’re fortunate to live in a place where many of our policy makers understand the importance of access to the outdoors. But we have to keep doing our part too, and not be complacent or take our trails, mountains, streams, and lakes for granted. The Bolton effort is an incredible showing of this kind of spirit. I look forward to writing the piece about the sale being finalized—and how we all helped.
See you out there.