Act 250 May No Longer Regulate Vermont Trail Development and Use
On October 5, 2020, the Governor of Vermont issued Executive Order No. 04-20. The Order suspended all currently pending litigation to which the State is a party related to the imposition of Act 250 jurisdiction on a Vermont recreational trail or trail system.
This suspension brings to a halt two major Act 250 trail-related matters involving the Kingdom Trails and Victory Hill mountain biking trail systems. In those matters, the State had either asserted, or was considering asserting, Act 250 jurisdiction over two mountain bike trail networks located in the Northeast Kingdom.
The Order is a tacit acknowledgement by the State that Act 250 is not the proper mechanism for regulating trails in Vermont. A significant effort involving several environmental groups and all major recreational trail operators has been underway for over a year to devise an alternative mechanism for regulating Vermont trails, which resulted in the formation of the Vermont Trails Alliance.
The Order also requires that, in the absence of an alternative regulatory mechanism, the Natural Resource Board must clarify the Act 250 jurisdictional triggers that apply to recreational trails because to-date jurisdiction has been imposed inconsistently. The Order also recognizes the ongoing efforts to develop a new, non-Act 250, regulatory mechanism for recreational trails based on best-management-practices. The new regulatory mechanism will cover all trails that are part of the Vermont Trail System and will be developed in conjunction with the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council and will continue the work of the Vermont Trails Alliance.
Hopefully, this process will move forward efficiently and result in a workable regulatory system that protects the environment while at the same time not discouraging or impeding the development of additional recreational trails.
If you have questions about the use of a Vermont trail or seek to expand or improve a trail, MSK Attorneys is here to help. Please contact us online or call us at 1-802-861-7000 for any matter regarding Vermont trails or Act 250.