Video: Keeping the North Woods Open for Business
Release Date: 08-06-2009
Across the Northern Forest, timber is giving way to tourism.
But to maintain an economy in this 26-million-acre swath of trees — from the Maine coast across northern New Hampshire, Vermont, and into the Adirondacks — hikers, paddlers, hunters, and leaf-peepers need access to land.
And more than 85 percent of the Northern Forest is privately owned.
This land stands at risk of being posted, fenced and otherwise closed-off — and with these restrictions the economies of many Northern Forest communities may also be at risk.
Lisa Chase, director of the Vermont Tourism Center at the University of Vermont and a specialist with UVM Extension, has been leading a research project "Public Access to Private Lands for Recreation and Tourism in the Northern Forest," that sheds light on how this land might remain open for nature recreation.
Her team's recent results show that 87 percent of people who own large parcels of land still allow public recreation on their lands. But almost half of private landowners have limited recreational access to their lands in the past ten years. Nevertheless, fewer than 10 percent have closed off their land completely, she reports.
One of the challenges is that "many private landowners are not well-informed about liability protection offered them by state statutes," she notes, "while large investment landowners tend to be more familiar with landowner liability statutes."
Chase's research is part of a broader effort by the Northeastern States Research Cooperative, (NSRC) a multi-state grant program housed at UVM, to provide data and outreach about the Northern Forest.
This new video from the NSRC, featuring Chase, explores the challenges of maintaining tourism in the Northern Forest: