Vermont skiing news includes foolish felons

Friday, May 8, 2009 at 01:24 PM

It may be springtime, but they're still churning out skiing news on the Internet.

In late April, the nefarious Big Jay trail cutters were sentenced.

According to the Burlington Free Press:

"Paul Poulin, 48, of Derby Line, and Alan Ritter, 47, of Jay pleaded no contest in Vermont District Court in Newport to felony charges of unlawful mischief.

The two received suspended terms of 18 to 36 months. They will serve 60 days with a pre-approved furlough community restitution program, to begin immediately, the state Agency of Natural Resources said."

In case you missed it, these guys were caught cutting a 60-foot-wide backcountry ski trail on Big Jay Peak, which is next to Jay Peak Resort. Apparently they can't ski the trees if they need a trail that's 60 feet wide. They should have just stuck to resort skiing.

Unfortunately they were caught after doing a lot of damage—about 1,000 trees were cut.

According to the Freep:

"Big Jay Mountain is owned by the state and managed as part of Jay State Forest. The Green Mountain Club and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board co-hold a conservation easement restricting development and vegetation cutting.

'The sentencing and the felony conviction sends a clear message that backcountry skiers need to stay within the law,' Russ Ford, a member of the Green Mountain Club and a longtime Jay Peak ski patroller, said after hearing of the settlement. 'It shows conservation groups are able to maintain and enforce easements on protected areas.'"

I was happy to see that the book was thrown at them, but I wondered if these guys were going to have to pay restitution to Green Mountain Club (GMC)—where I pay membership dues—or to the state for work to restore the mountainside and for lawyers' fees. So I asked reporter Candy Page; she checked on it and shared her response via her blog.

The State and GMC are coordinating efforts as the two men must also go before the Reparation Board. The Board will be determining a proper fine.

I think a double-whammy of jail time and fines would send an even stronger message to anyone who is thinking of making their mark on state land: Just don't do it.

Filed in: Backcountry skiing, Jay Peak

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