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Green Mountain National Forest closes trail near Mount Snow

The Green Mountain National Forest has closed a popular trail to snowmobilers near the Mount Snow Ski Area because of what a U.S. Forest Service spokesman described as “significant, unauthorized excavation.”

The GMNF issued the formal closure notice of the Deerfield Ridge Trail, a 5-mile trail that links Mount Snow to Haystack Mountain in the towns of Dover and Wilmington, because of the recently discovered excavation. It said the excavation was under investigation.

It also announced the closure of a nearby section of the forest, covering about 23 acres, which also had been disturbed, according to Ethan Ready, spokesman for the Green Mountain National Forest.

Ready said the matter was under investigation, and said as a result what he could say publicly was limited. But he said the work was done without a permit.

According to the Forest Service, the violation of federal law could result in a $5,000 fine for an individual or a $10,000 fine for an organization, and a six-month jail term.

The 23-acre section of disturbed forest is close to Haystack Pond and is on the forest’s border, about 300 feet.

Both closure orders were dated Friday and signed by Green Mountain National Forest Supervisor Colleen Pelles Madrid.

Ready said because snowmobile season had started this past weekend, the agency wanted to get the word out about its decision to close the Deerfield Ridge Trail.

“These trail modifications represent a significant threat of damage to the surrounding public lands and resources by increasing erosion, compromising the health of existing wetlands, wildlife habitat and unique biological communities,” Ready said, via a formal statement.

Ready said that the Deerfield Ridge Trail remains open to hikers and snowshoe enthusiasts, but that they should “exercise caution and expect changed and degraded trail conditions.”

“These are ongoing investigations,” he said.

In addition to snowmobiles, the Deerfield Ridge Trail was closed to motorized traffic, such as ATVs and construction equipment, the Forest Service said.

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