Progress is being made on our first hut. Conceptual designs are in the works.
Despite the wet weather we’ve been experiencing here in Vermont, there are a lot of new developments to share on the hut front. Read on to see what we’ve been up to the past few months.
Usually you’re supposed to save the most exciting news for last, but we just couldn’t contain ourselves. We’re building our first hut! That’s right, Vermont Huts Association is exploring viable sites in Green Mountain National Forest to host a year-round facility capable of serving various outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, mountain bikers, backcountry skiers, snowshoers, and more! We’ll be announcing the exact location of our hut once a site has been confirmed, but in the mean time, please help us get the ball rolling by donating to our hut fund. Your contributions will go toward the hut design fees and ensure we have the resources on hand to get to work when the time comes. We expect to have a site identified by the end of 2017, with construction to begin in the spring/summer of 2018. Exciting times for our young organization!
OK, so this is slightly less glamorous than a new hut, but equally important to us. The IRS just granted us our 501(c)(3) determination letter! A boring little piece of paper means a lot. While we have always been a registered nonprofit in the state of Vermont, we had to go through the standard application process with the IRS in order to receive our federal nonprofit recognition. What does this mean for you and our organization? Essentially, we are now able to operate as an independent nonprofit without a fiscal sponsor, run our own fundraising campaigns, access great benefits only available to nonprofits, and generally begin to take Vermont Huts to the next level. It’s kind of like graduating from college, without all the debt.
Some of you may have heard about or participated in our first “Solstice Photo Contest.” Compliments of Outdoor Gear Exchange and Nemo Outdoor Equipment, we were able to offer the contest winner $1,000 worth of Nemo camping gear. Not only did the contest help to grow our newsletter list to nearly 600 subscribers, but it allowed us to make some great friends who showcased their incredible Vermont-based photography. Our winning submission from Mark Collier earned nearly 200 votes! Congrats, Mark!
In order to reach our mission of providing a year-round cohesive hut network, we recognize the need for an interconnected trail network serving our huts . With that in mind, we offered a $1,500 Trail Collaboration Grant to incentivize trail organizations across the state to work together in an effort to connect their respective networks. The two winning organizations, RASTA and Green Mountain Trails, are working with Green Mountain National Forest to connect the Rochester area trails to Pittsfield’s trail network – bringing us one step closer to year-round statewide recreation connectivity. Congratulations to these two amazing organizations! We will continue to offer a trail grant every year, and it is our intention to grow the funding amount so we can have greater impact with our trail partners.
We hope you’ll join us in Burlington on Thursday, October 19 at 8 PM for our official “Launch Party” at Outdoor Gear Exchange. We’ll have free beer, live music from Emma Cook and Questionable Company, great prizes, more hut updates, and generally good times with fun people to celebrate the changing of seasons. Stay tuned for ticket sales and more details to come in the near future!