Fall 2017 | 29 add to the state’ bureaucracy at a time when citizens were demanding austerity. The proposed legislation called for a state-run Division of Snowmobilers to coordinate the trails program. Duso quickly went about designing a compromise to save the idea. The new plan called for the state to contract with VAST to coordinate the trails program. Funding for the $200,000 annual contract would come from snowmobile registration fees and a $75,000 appropriation from the Vermont Agency of Transportation, money collected as snowmobile gas taxes. Since the compromise was not drawn up until the state legislature was about to adjourn in the spring of 1978, it became doubtful whether the bill could clear both houses of the legislature in time. The bill passed the House, but it was still hung up in the Senate on the last day of the session. Only because Duso had won over the lieutenant governor who presides over the Senate, did the bill beat the adjournment deadline. The legislation was signed by the governor in May and the contract between the state and VAST was signed in September. “This was awful late in the year to start a trails program,” Duso confesses, “but we went right at it. We expect this to be a three- to five-year program to construct about 500 miles of corridor trails.” According to Duso, the plan makes VAST the first snowmobile association to administer its own trails system with state funds. The International Snowmobile Industry Association praised VAST and Duso for the agreement, saying in a widely distributed letter:”…a number of provincial and state associations can use the VAST proposal as a blueprint for their own submissions to government, so that similar programs are underway in other jurisdictions before long. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers has earned the respect of elected state officials, state and federal government administrators, media officials, and the general public through extremely diligent effort and leadership. The most visible symbol yet of that respect and trust occurred when it was authorized by the state to implement and administer the Vermont public snowmobile trail program. This model piece of legislation, hammered out at the last second, is mainly the craftsmanship of a 75-year-old man who confesses to no special expertise as a professional lobbyist. By his own admission, Carmi Duso is not an extrovert or as he puts it, “I’m no glad-hander.” Duso’s strengths lie in his honesty, stubbornness, and enterprise. He works hard and he works smart. He refuses to give in. And he believes if he can’t be trusted, then he has lost his most valuable asset. “You have to work at this day after day. You have to get to know the legislators, but more importantly, they have to trust you. You’ve got to tell the truth in this business,” he says with great emphasis. “If you don’t, you’re in trouble. It will backfire on you.” While not allowing himself the luxury of deceit, Duso did allow himself the luxury of disappointment. “Some days I got so discouraged I’d leave the Capital and think, ‘What am I doing this for?’ Then the next day, you have to be ready to go at it again.” This practical perseverance is the essence of his Yankee personality. And make no doubt about it, Carmi Duso is a true Yankee. VAST office manager Corrine Lawson describes him: “To people overseas, a Yankee is an American. In the South, a Yankee is someone north of the Mason-Dixon line. In New England, a Yankee is someone from Vermont. And in Vermont, a Yankee is someone who has apple pie with cheese for breakfast. Carmi has apple pie and cheese every morning.” Duso loves the winter outdoors. He has said that “I would rather be blowing snow than mowing grass.” He also knows the longevity statistics of people who retire to nothing.“Once you get in a rocking chair, you stay there. That’s it, you’ve had it,” he says in his clipped New England accent. “That’s part of the beauty of snowmobiling, it’s something older people can enjoy.” Duso explains as he sits among topographical maps in his office. “I know many older couples around here who did nothing except sit in rocking chairs and watch television, especially in the winter. Then they bought a snowmobile. Now, these couples spend most of their time riding. It’s been wonderful. So many of these people have been able to see all of their farmland for the first time because of the snowmobile. You can get on that snowmobile and see country and scenery you’d never see otherwise. Duso staunchly defends snowmobiling against some of its critics by drawing on his own expertise and experience. “ I like to snowshoe; I do plenty of it. But yesterday I was out with my neighbor and we rode our snowmobiles for 25 miles. Well, if you snowshoed for most of the day, you wouldn’t get that far. You can cover just so much more ground and see so much more on a snowmobile.” The only thing that Duso seems to mind is the lack of recreational snowmobiling. He pointed out that often he is so busy blazing, clearing, maintaining and signing trails that he doesn’t get a chance to just ride. “Why, it was February this winter before my neighbor and I had a chance to really ride,” he says. “every other weekend, we were out towing a sleigh doing some kind of work on the trails.” Carmi Duso