This fall, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) completed much needed trailhead and parking lot improvement projects at some of the most popular access points in the Worcester Range and beyond. Funding for these projects came from the CARES Act, a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill which was passed by the federal government in March 2020 (CARES Act is shorthand for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). Of that money, Vermont recieved $1.25 billion to support our economy.
Now, a portion of that money has been used to support our recreation infrastructure. Tourism (and outdoor recreation) is a major component of Vermont's economy. While we have had fewer than normal out-of-state visitors on our trails this year, recreation organizations are beginning to report sharp increases in overall use of outdoor recreation resources. This data comes from trail counters, observations, and anectotal evidence of full parking lots and summits. At Stowe Land Trust we saw a 25% increase in visitor counts at Wiessner Woods this spring over past years and a 30% increase at Kirchner Woods this summer. Through this funding, FPR has been able to complete these important access upgrades to better manage the anticipated high levels of use that we will continue to see on our beloved trail systems.
Local Trailhead Projects Funded by the CARES Act
- Pinnacle Meadows access road and parking lot improvement: repaired and installed broad-based dips and re-surfaced with crushed ledge material.
- Stowe Pinnacle parking area re-surfaced.
- Both of the Middlesex trailhead parking lots to Mt. Hunger were re-surfaced.
- Worcester Mountain access road repaired and parking lot re-surfaced.
- “Green Crow” access road improvement. This is a little used access road to an existing landing. It is located directly across from the new North Branch Cascades Trail which was completed in 2020 in the town of Elmore.
- Waterbury Dam overflow parking lot creation. This will be new parking in the grassy area below the dam.
- Brownsville 3-season parking lot expansion and re-surfacing. Project slated for completion in November 2020.
- Moss Glen Falls – re-surfacing and slight expansion of the parking area.