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2 charged after trail is created

MONTGOMERY, Vt. -- Two men who allegedly cut their own backcountry ski trail on 3,786-foot Big Jay mountain have been criminally charged for it.

Paul G. Poulin, 47, of Derby, and Alan B. Ritter, 46, of North Troy, are accused of destroying state property -- a felony -- for allegedly taking trail-making into their own hands by gouging a path down a steep slope near the top of the mountain, on land owned by the state.

If convicted, they could face five years in jail and $5,000 in fines. A Sept. 11 court date has been set.

"It's horrible what's been done up there," said Rebecca Washburn, stewardship coordinator for the Green Mountain Club.

"It's an awful thing that has left a very visible scar on the side of the mountain," she said.

Trimming and pruning along backcountry trails is nothing new in Vermont, but officials say the extent of the Big Jay cut is especially troubling.

Dozens of spruce and pine trees were chopped down close to the ground, and smaller trees and brush have been cut and collected in piles along the trail.

Employees of Jay Peak Resort discovered the damage earlier this year as they prepared for summer operation of the resort's tram.

"We were horrified with what has been done," said Jay Peak Resort president Bill Stenger. "It goes against every principle of backcountry skiing. You do not just go out into the forest and take things into your own hands."