15 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT rates, especially our Early Bird rates, are a great value, especially since we by far have the best groomed and signed trails in the Northeast. This year we had our first run at a new online TMA sales system. This worked out really well and we were able to sell 1,707 online TMAs and clubs got, in most cases, higher dues from those members that bought online. About half of the sales of TMAS came from folks living in Vermont who just liked the convenience of buying their TMA from the comfort of their home. I did not hear one complaint about the extra money they had to pay. While I don’t believe we will ever go online completely, I heard from clubs that really like it because it relieves them of volunteer time being needed and also from having folks make mistakes on the TMA forms. Coming in 2017/18, VAST will be adding Family TMAs to the list of those being sold online. This past legislative session was a busy one. I was in the Statehouse quite a few times to update committees and testify. There were some bills introduced that had they passed without VAST’s input and changes made, could and would have crippled our trail system. The first was H.287 a bill with the intention that any landowner that had an active or inactive track of land that had a chain or wire across it, even if the landowner was unaware, would have been liable if someone was injured by this chain or wire. In addition to testifying, I wrote up my testimony and this is just one paragraph summarizing my testimony: “H.287 could potentially devastate industries that bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to Vermont each year. Often in Vermont, landowners try to use recreational uses of their property as leverage when they are unhappy with an action by the state, be it a raise in taxes or changes in land management laws. We have already heard from landowners that, should this bill pass they would close their land to us. This could devastate and segment our trail system and potentially crush us as we go into our 50th year as Vermont’s snowmobile industry operator, which brings into Vermont, on average, more than five hundred million dollars a year of revenue”. Now let me update you on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, which is a major project of VAST. This past year we were able to work with Senate Transportation and leaders at VTrans to put into to law a bill that states that VTrans will in the future contribute 80 percent funding of a match, with a 20 percent match from VAST for trail conversion. VTrans will find this money from leftover projects using federal grants and not new taxes. This is exciting news that these folks in the statehouse and Vermont Agency of Transportation recognized the need to step up and help since they to see what this trail has already done for the communities where it is completed. In order to raise the 20 percent funding VAST needs to finish the conversion of the LVRT (3 million dollars) we started a capital campaign to help us raise the money. When this trail is complete it will span Vermont in the north, be the longest rail trail in New England, and connect more than five hundred miles of the VAST trail network. I want to end my letter to point out that VAST will be back out on the road promoting Vermont riding this fall. We are excited to continue doing this and last year we saw the results in some new members and a boost in 3-Day TMA visits from outside of Vermont. Think Snow for 2018 and thank you so much to all of you that volunteer!