Vermont Residents Reject Ford Bronco Off-Road Driving School Plans
One of Ford's planned "Off-Roadeo" driving schools for new Bronco owners will have to find a new home.
With the launch of the new Bronco and Bronco Sport, Ford is aiming to quickly make a beachhead and cement its place in four-wheeling culture. This means more than just shipping the vehicles themselves—it’s about creating a brand and a lifestyle around the ownership experience to take on Jeep culture head-to-head. As a part of these efforts, the company has been establishing off-road driving schools around the country, under the decidedly twee "Bronco Off-Roadeo" moniker. Recently, Vermont residents threw a spanner in the works by derailing Ford’s plans for one such program in the state, according to Valley News.
Ford aimed to run its driving courses—via a company called Adventure ORX—at the Suicide Six ski area in partnership with the Woodstock Inn and Resort in Pomfret, Vermont, a small town of about 900 people. The goal was to make use of the area in the off-season, taking advantage of old maintenance and logging roads in a two-mile loop on the resort’s property. Free to any new Bronco owner, the program was intended to run from May to October. However, residents have maintained they weren't given proper notice of the plans and objected to the potential for visitors to venture into and possibly damage the wider network of what Vermont calls Class 4 roads, used to refer to roads and trails popular that aren’t actively maintained by the city or state.
While this lay outside the scope of Ford’s official program, worries that a driving school might lead to increased traffic on the state’s trails are understandable, whether you agree with the underlying principle or not—the Off-Roadeo marketing materials, some of which we've screengrabbed below, have been pushing the schools' locations as ideal jumping-off points for people to test their new vehicles and newfound off-road skills. Another one is on the books for Moab, for example. Local residents also raised concerns around four-wheelers negatively impacting other trail users such as horse riders.
At a Pomfret Planning Commission meeting early last week, Pomfret's townspeople spoke out and made it clear they were opposed to the project, with many saying that they felt blindsided by the project. “The Inn could have come to Pomfret beforehand. In my experience this was really unusual and wrong,” said one Betsy Siebeck. Other residents were more blunt: “I am in clear and vehement opposition to this project," said Lisa Parsons. "The noise alone of this proposed project would completely destroy the character of my home and the environment in which I live, not to mention its impact on the wildlife that thrives here.”
The next day, Woodstock management announced they were canceling the project, stating that "in light of the community feedback, resort management has reassessed the planned program and spoke this morning with Adventure ORX, LLC, to withdraw the application immediately.” The company noted their struggles to make profitable use of the ski area in the summer months, going on to note that “...Resort management has reviewed several proposals to provide offseason use of the ski area over the years to maintain a sustainable year-round business cycle that is vital to the community. The intention was for a closely monitored off-road program.”
Regardless of the commotion, Ford still lists Vermont as a location on the Off-Roadeo website, along with Texas, Moab, and Nevada, at the time of writing. We reached out to the automaker to see if it's got plans for a replacement location, which doesn't necessarily mean leaving the state: Vermont isn’t short on ski areas, or Class 4 roads for that matter. Anticipation for both the big daddy Bronco, as well as the baby Bronco Sport, remains high, with tuners already getting to work on the platform. With plenty riding on the success of the famous nameplate, you can be sure Ford is doing what they can to make sure its trails are ready for owners eager to start wheeling straight after launch.
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