20.0 Law Enforcement
As more and more Vermonters, as well as visitors to Vermont, begin to participate in all forms of recreational activities there arises a need for recreational education and law enforcement. The LVRT will ultimately need a presence of law enforcement both to educate the public as well as to ensure that all Vermont laws are properly and adequately enforced.
Vermont statutes do not grant VAST any law enforcement authority; therefore, the LVRTC and VAST will address public education, signage and public outreach to reduce the number of incidents on the trail that require action by a law enforcement officer. VAST and the LVRTC will cooperate with all Vermont law enforcement agencies in an effort to secure adequate funding for recreational law enforcement for the LVRT.
VAST and their partners through the LVRTC will strive to educate each of their memberships as well as the general public and/or visitors to Vermont of the laws, rules and regulations that govern the use of the trail. This will be done through the development of brochures; outreach to members through various newsletters and publications; signs at entry points to the trail and along the trail; general public outreach and education. The LVRTC will explore the option of creating a volunteer monitoring process for users of the trail. This will allow for “eyes and ears” on the trail at times when law enforcement officers are not available.
VAST has purchased and installed devices that record the time and speed of all snowmobiles that pass over the trail. These devices have been strategically placed at five locations along the trail and they will give us valuable information about the use of the trail; especially, after curfew use as well as the speed of those using the trail. This information will allow us to better inform law enforcement as to when violations are taking place; specifically, if we have a location where it appears that a pattern of misuse is apparent. With this information law enforcement will be able to target special areas during the time frames of misuse. Curfews are the hardest of all laws to enforce and to some extent there will never be100% adherence; regardless, of the time frame of curfews. It is hoped that the steps that have been taken will work and the information that we are able to compile will allow law enforcement to more adequately enforce imposed curfews and speed limits on the LVRT.
The issue of sound is one that VAST is trying to address. One of the hardest laws to enforce is the one that pertains to the allowed decibel level of snowmobiles. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has devised a new standard that allows an effective field test to ensure that all snowmobiles adhere to the legislated decibel level. VAST will introduce legislation that will allow Vermont law enforcement officials to utilize this new test to ensure that all snowmobiles are in compliance with the law. VT law enforcement agencies will be conducting tests using this standard to see how effective it is in the field.
Additional discussions will be taken to the General Assembly to look at revenue sources for law enforcement. The cost of enforcement is not one unique to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, but one that affects all recreational sports. We hope to complete the legislative session with revenues committed to annual recreational law enforcement.
During the term of this Interim Management Plan, the following law enforcement agencies shall be the primary source for law enforcement for the LVRT:
Caledonia County – Caledonia County Sheriff
Sheriff Michael Bergeron1126 Main Street, Suite 2St. Johnsbury VT 058191-802-748-6666
Lamoille County – Lamoille County Sheriff
Sheriff Roger Marcoux222 Main StreetPO Box 96Hyde Park VT 05655-00961-802-888-3502
Franklin County – Franklin County Sheriff
Sheriff, Robert Norris330 Lincoln AvenuePO Box 367St. Albans VT 05478-03671-802-524-2121
All violations of VT law, including trespass related issues should be reported to the County Sheriff. County Sheriffs will be responsible for investigation and follow up for all complaints and violations of law regarding the LVRT. County Sheriffs will also be responsible for patrols on the LVRT and will be working cooperatively with the VT Department of Fish and Wildlife in an effort to provide these services.
In the event that you are unable to contact any of the Sheriffs Offices the following are alternative contact numbers for the VT State Police, when calling to issue a complaint you should ask that the complaint be forwarded to the on-call Game Warden in your District:
Caledonia County: St. Johnsbury Barracks
Lamoille County: Williston Barracks
Franklin County: Saint Albans Barrack
In addition to the normal use constraints for the LVRT there are additional regulations that are in place for winter snowmobile use of the LVRT:
a) There shall be no motorized use of the LVRT between the hours of 11:00PM and 6:00 AM daily
b) The posted speed limit on the LVRT is 35 miles per hour.
A violation of either of these conditions will result in a monetary fine.