Below is a statement from the GMC’s executive director Mike DeBonis regarding a recent instance of hateful vandalism on trails within the network that we manage. This was not the first instance of hatred or discrimination seen on the trails here in Vermont, and it likely won’t be the last. Just last week, GMC field staff removed hateful graffiti from trail signs and shelters on the Long Trail. Green Mountain Club puts forth the following statement condemning the incident in the Northeast Kingdom:
No Place for Hatred on the Trail
Recently there was a report of graffiti at trailheads in the Northeast Kingdom, including the Kingdom Heritage Trails that are maintained by the Northeast Kingdom Section of the Green Mountain Club. While graffiti is a crime and harms a public resource, we see it regularly across the Long Trail and other trails we manage.
What was found in the Northeast Kingdom was not simply graffiti, but a blatant display of bigotry and hatred directed at trail users that hold marginalized identities. The vandalism was quickly removed and reported to local authorities. The Green Mountain Club vehemently condemns these acts.
The 500-mile Long Trail System, which includes the Long Trail, its side trails, the Appalachian Trail in Vermont, and the Kingdom Heritage Trails, is managed as a free and open resource. This is one of its strengths. The system works when users voluntarily and collectively practice responsible stewardship for the enjoyment of others. The system fails when certain groups are excluded from or access is restricted to the resource.
As trail managers, it is our responsibility to use our voice to condemn bigotry on the trail and do everything we can to provide safe spaces for individuals to work and recreate. This means calling out acts of violence such as those in the Northeast Kingdom and supporting employees, volunteers, and hikers who hold marginalized identities. Hatred has no place on the trail, and GMC stands with all trail users impacted by this and other forms of hate speech and violence.
— Mike DeBonis, Executive Director
The mission of the Green Mountain Club is to make the mountains of Vermont play a larger role in the life of the people — we take this to mean all people. The Green Mountain Club is committed to making the outdoors, including the trails we manage, a more safe and welcoming space for all hikers who wish to recreate. We invite our hiking community to educate themselves on ways to act as an ally on the trail for those who may face barriers to accessing and enjoying the outdoors in a safe and comfortable manner.
Read More: Julie Moore: Vermont state parks are for everyone. Respect. Protect. Enjoy. Commentary in VTDigger, June 7, 2021
Read more: GMC Executive Director Mike DeBonis’s commentary on racist incidents on the trail last summer
How to be an Ally on the Trail
Republished with some additions from a list compiled by writer Aubri Drake
- Educate yourself on the barriers faced by marginalized communities when it comes to getting outdoors and being safe there. Share this knowledge with friends and family. Start with these reading lists from American Hiking and Appalachian Mountain Club.
- Be ready to stand in support and solidarity if you see someone making others feel unwelcome (while keeping yourself and others safe).
- Invite friends and acquaintances who have marginalized identities to join you on a hike or adventure. Loan them gear if they need it.
- Follow and support organizations that facilitate access to the outdoors. A few to start with are Outdoor Afro, Wild Diversity, Queer Nature, the Venture Out Project, and Unlikely Hikers, among many others. Donate to their causes if you can.
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