BY STEVEN JUPITER
GOSHEN/LEICESTER—After a months-long deliberative process that included a dramatic public meeting in Brandon last summer, the proposed guest hut on the Silver Lake trail in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area has been officially nixed.
In his ruling, District Ranger Christopher Mattrick laid out the rationale:
“[A]lthough the placement of a hut within the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area (MNRA) would be a benefit to the public and the Green Mountain National Forest, the proposed hut design and location might tangibly alter the experience of the users approaching Silver Lake on the Goshen and Leicester Hollow Trails, as well as the Silver Lake Campground itself.”
The proposed hut would have provided bare-bones accommodations for up to 10 overnight guests at a price of $65 to $165 per night, depending on the season.
At the public meeting in Brandon on June 8, 2022, proponents and opponents of the hut made their cases.
Proponents argued that the hut would offer much-needed shelter during the winter months and that it would act as a home base for the handicapped, the elderly, or families who wanted to hike overnight without carrying loads of equipment.
Opponents argued that the presence of a hut would destroy the experience of hiking on an undeveloped trail. Some folks speaking against the proposal blasted what they viewed as a desecration of nature. It was this argument that seems to have ultimately prevailed.
The ruling does not preclude the possibility of building a hut elsewhere in the MNRA and Moosalamoo Association (MA) President Angelo Lynn insists that the search will continue for a site. “The public good of a hut within the Moosalamoo is undeniable,” he said. The MA is a private organization that works with the Forest Service to develop the MNRA for public benefit.
“[A] goal is to develop a through-hiking trail and hut system in the Green Mountains similar to what New Hampshire, Maine, and many other states have,” Lynn continued. “With the help of area residents and towns, we look forward to finding a suitable hut site in the near future.”