24 | Snowmobile VERMONT TRAILS REPORT by Matt Tetreault, VAST Trails Administrator The weather outside today is very different than what it was the last time I was writing down my thoughts for this magazine. It is 27 degrees and the snow is blanketing the ground, not as much as we would all like but the ground is white. I don’t think it’s a bad way to end November! We will have to hope that the ground continues to freeze and the snow continues to fall as it is right now, although many clubs are in the midst of finishing up last minute projects and signing while there is a short hiatus in the Vermont deer seasons. Hopefully, any of you who are hunters and are reading this were able to get out there and have some success this season. I was out in the woods my fair share this year and couldn’t help but cross my interest in deer hunting and snowmobiling. Some of the areas I hunted this year were off from Class 4 town roads that happen to host VAST trails. All of us ride down these trails in the winter at a decent clip and never give a thought to what is underneath us other than snow. We have no idea we are even on a Class 4 road. How would we know? The Green Mountain State is home to approximately 8,700 miles of dirt roads and 7,100 miles of paved roads. Additionally, there are approximately 1,700 miles of Class 4 highways and trails that traverse the Vermont countryside. Currently, VAST trails utilize around 250 miles of these roads. Almost every town has at least a couple miles of Class 4 roads. As we all know, these corridors provide necessary recreational access in areas that we may otherwise be closed off from. It is important that we keep Class 4 highways and trails as public resources. Vermont law states that the selectmen shall determine which highways are Class 4 town highways. It also states that a Class 4 highway is: • 3 rods or 49.5’ wide (unless otherwise recorded) • Not eligible for state aid funds • Usually not maintained for winter use (unless by a VAST groomer or is privately maintained) It is very interesting to see how these Class 4 roads are used by various recreational groups throughout the year. The amount of use on some of the roads solidifies the importance of their existence. One item that is lacking on many of the roads is routine maintenance. Over the many years that some of these roads have been in existence, erosion has taken its toll. In many instances, these roads were not placed in the best possible locations initially. They were simply placed there out of necessity at the time of their creation. Prolonged use and little to no maintenance has allowed Mother Nature to take her course. Unauthorized uses in some cases have contributed to the roads’ demise. In other instances, there have been authorized uses that have contributed as well. Logging operations, hunters and just folks out for a Sunday drive when the ground is soft. You can often recognize a Class 4 road because the edges of the road are not only lined with old stone walls but are also 2 feet higher than the center of the road. As a result, there is nowhere for the water to go but down the road until it can finally get to a place where it can bail off. It is impossible to install water bars to shed the water in most cases. Filling in the trail tread to the height it needs to be is impossible or, at the very least, cost prohibitive. It is almost too late in many cases as over time all of the smaller sized gravel (fines) in the road is gone, leaving behind large, uneven boulders as the trail base. I was amazed at the poor condition of the trail tread along some of the Class 4 roads I walked down while hunting. I could not imagine a groomer climbing up over some of the ledge that I saw. In these instances, it takes a great deal of snow to make the trail that we all enjoy. The first couple of trips out with the groomer on that trail will certainly take their toll on the tracks and undercarriage of the machine! However, there is a positive light to all this. VAST spends thousands of dollars each year repairing and improving Class 4 roads all across Border Riders’Trailmaster Richard Poulin and VAST Trails Administrator Matt Tetreault pick their way through an old logging road near Averill scouting new trails.