February 2009  
snowshoeing at smugglers notch
Vermont State Parks
Greetings from the parks!
We are excited to send you the very first edition of the Vermont State Parks e-newsletter!
People love our state parks.  This newsletter is one way we can give a little something back to "fans".  It's a way to spark memories of park visits and share news about changes, events and opportunities.  We really hope you enjoy it!  Look for a new edition four to five times a year.
If you would like to keep receiving them, we will be happy to keep sending them to you.  If you don't want a copy, just select the "unsuscribe" option at the bottom of this edition.  You can always sign up later on our website if you change your mind.  If you want to share it with a friend - great. 
As always, we really appreciate your comments and suggestions about anything!
Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks
The Outdoor Observer:
By Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator
eastern cottontail in winterThis winter while you are snuggled next to a toasty woodstove fire, sipping a mug of hot chocolate, animals are finding ways to survive the winter weather outside.  Even as you are feeling safe and warm inside, a cottontail rabbit may be using your favorite campsite as a refuge from the deep snow of winter.  Life continues to go on in the winter world of Vermont. 
Remember those squirrels that would frequent your campsite or picnic spot in the summer?  Right now, they are looking for pine and spruce cones for food, and searching for the places where they stashed nuts earlier in the year.  Perhaps you have noticed a squirrel hiding acorns under a log while you were visiting a park.  Now that squirrel is digging out those nuts so it can have a nutritious food source in the cold.  It takes a great deal of energy and insulation to stay warm in winter.  You know that because when you head out the door, what do you put on?  I usually wear a thick coat, hat and gloves.  Squirrels do not have the luxury of putting on a puffy warm jacket, but they do grow thicker winter fur to keep them warmer.
winter squirrel
Red and gray squirrels belong to a group called tree squirrels because they live in trees.  Chipmunks belong to the ground squirrel group because-you guessed it -they live underground.  Which type of home do you think would be more accessible in the winter?  My vote goes to the tree nest, and it is true that tree squirrels can find food in trees and access their nests all winter long.  Our friendly neighborhood chipmunks, on the other hand, hole up in their ground nests and snuggle in for the winter.  Have you noticed chipmunks popping in and out of holes in the ground during other seasons?  Those are the tunnels that spread down, down, down into their subterranean nests.  Chipmunks burrow down far enough to go below the frost line and angle their tunnels enough so that snow will not filter down into their nests.  
Every animal has unique methods of handling the challenges of winter weather.  White tail deer will move into areas with less snow, mostly under hemlock trees and other evergreens.  Evergreen trees are great shelter in the winter because they keep their needles, and this causes the snow to shed away from the trees so that the snow stays shallow under them.  That hemlock stand you picnicked in last summer at Emerald Lake State Park may be a deer bedding place today.  Moose, on the other hand, are engineered for high elevations and deep snow.  Moose take their long legs and march up to the mountaintops to spend the winter.  You might see one if you take a wintertime hike on Camel's Hump or another ridgeline in Vermont. 
Exploring Vermont State Parks really is a unique experience in the wintertime.  While you are finding ways to stay warm this winter, the animals that live in your favorite park are doing the same thing in their own way.  If you are curious, put on your warmest jacket and head out into the parks to see what is happening in the winter world of Vermont.   
Desperate for some signs of spring?
(..or what the heck is Phenology?) 
by Maria Mayer, Parks Regional Manager, Southwest Region
I usually don't count myself in the 'desperate' category, as I enjoy winter sports and actually look forward to the snow flying.  All the same, I am thrilled each year to see the signs of winter passing and spring arriving.
In January when I transfer important dates (birthdays, game suppers, etc.) from our old wall calendar to the new I move over last year's phenology.  Phenology, per Wikipedia is "the study of the times of recurring natural phenomena".  Believe it or not I have a couple of notations every year in January and February.  
So if you are desperate for a sign of spring, a light at the end of the tunnel, here are a few to look forward to (and you don't have to be a biologist or even a practiced birder to look for these!).  Mind you, the months I have given are my own observations from the Champlain Valley.  What you might observe in Smugglers' Notch State Park will be a bit different!  Let us know what you see out in the parks.
February: Robin - easily recognizable by even non-birders;  Bluebird - usually I see one in a flock and think, "What was that flash of blue?"  It takes the second flash of blue to convince me I'm not dreaming;  Killdeer - someone had the brilliant idea to name this bird after it's call and even I can recognize this by its sounds.  These birds race along the ground in fields where the snow has partially melted. Snow fleas - suddenly you realize that the little specks in the snow are MOVING!  Grab a magnifying glass to check them out up close and personal.
March:  Things really start ramping up now...Red-winged blackbird - look for them anywhere you see cattails.  Nothing heralds the sign of spring like their "oak-a-lee" call.  Its basically saying, "Hey ladies, check me out...", after all that's what spring is all about!  Kingfisher - as soon as the ice is out, look near ponds or rivers for this flashy bird, perched, hovering, or diving into the water.  Peepers - are to spring evenings what red-winged blackbirds are to its days.  The frog version of "Ode to Joy" we hear from the swamp across the road from our house.
Still too cold for you to venture out?  Check out some really cool phenology maps  
We need your testimonials!
Every day we talk to folks who have been coming to state parks for years and years.  Parents bring their kids, then their kids' kids and so on down the line.  We'd love to hear from you about your experiences - whether you have a favorite park that you return to year after year, or just love the parks in general.  We'd like to use your stories to help share the parks with others.  If you're interested, send an email to rochelle.skinner@state.vt.us, call us at 802-241-3665 or drop a note to Rochelle Skinner, Vermont State Parks, Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, 103 South Main Street, Waterbury, VT  05671.
Trek to Knight Island
Saturday, February 21, 2009
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Take a walk on the water and hike out to Knight Island State Park.  This is a great way to explore this island that is only accessible by boat in the summer!  As part of Grand Isle's Great Ice event, take an over and back trek to Knight Island, any time between 11 AM to 4 PM. Trek from City Bay to Knight Island on skates, skis, snowshoes or sleds. Warm up at the ranger station on the island with hot beverages, hear stories and learn about the island's history from Parks' Ranger Jim Putnam before heading back to City Bay. Trek is about 4 miles round trip.  Park at Hero's Landing parking lot and leave from dock.  For more information, contact Lake Champlain Islands Chamber of Commerce at 802-262-5226.

Thanks to our Photography Interns whose photos were featured in this issue. 
olympiaOlympia Bowker
is a UVM Student and Vermont State Parks photography intern.  She took the great shot of her friend snowshoeing at Smugglers Notch State Park.
jaredJared Clark, Vermont State Parks photography intern lives in Brattleboro and took the shot of the snowy lean-to at Gifford Woods State Park
This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks
Have fun out there, shake your boots off before coming in the house, and most of all, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
Vermont State Parks
The Parks Through the Seasons:  Winter
You probably already know Vermont State Parks are great for winter activities, but did you know that you can winter camp in the parks?  There are a few challenges, but there are many, many rewards.
Ski into a lean-to, make first tracks, view winter wildlife, just to name a few.  Check out our off season pages for everything you need to know.
winter lean-to
Sledding:  Mt. Philo, Mt. Ascutney, Elmore
Activity Focus: 
Dog Sledding
belted kingfisher 
The season of winter provides a fresh perspective on the landscape of Vermont.  The rolling hills and valleys become pristine white and sparkle in the sun.  Visit state parks when the lakes are thick with ice and snow blankets the ground, and you will have a wonderfully different experience.  There are so many unique things to do including snowshoeing, snow sculpture building, and dog sledding.  That's  right - dog sledding can be a fun and exciting wintertime activity in Vermont State Parks.  Just ask Rob Farley, an experienced dog sled guide who takes his pack of Siberian huskies through the historic and scenic trails of Little River State Park, pulling a long sled that hold two people and gear.  To learn more about dog sledding and view more photos of the dogs you can visit Rob's website:  October Siberians.
What's New
Check out Vermont State Parks on Facebook
Now you can join discussions, share photos, ideas, opinions and stories with park staff and other park visitors.  You can look for upcoming events and news or link to the parks' website.  So check us out, become a fan, write on our wall and spread the word to your friends and family.  Who knows, you may learn about some new places to visit, meet up with old pals and make new friends.  Check back often, as it changes every day.  You can go to facebook, or go to www.vtstateparks.com and click on the facebook icon.
belted kingfisher
Interactive Campground Maps Make Choosing a Campsite a Cinch
For the last couple of summers parks' photography interns and staff have been taking photos of our 2,000+ campsites.  So now you can click on most of our park campground maps, see a layout of the park, then click on individual campsites.  A page will display with a photo of the site, plus information like shade or sun, grass or gravel, pets permitted and what size RV the site will accommodate.  Try it out on these parks, for example:  Little River and Molly Stark.


Rick and the Ramblers Donate CD Sales to Vermont State Parks 
Rick Norcross and his band, Rick and the Ramblers have been friends of Vermont State Parks for years, delighting audiences across the state with family-friendly western swing music.  In celebration of the release of their new CD, "I Rode the Ti", Rick is donating 500 CDs for the parks to sell - and keep the proceeds!  To order your copy go to this link, or pick one up in the Park.  To see Rick's full concert schedule, go to the Ramblers' website. 
get into the forest 
Get Into the Forest and Celebrate 100 Years of Protecting Vermont Forests
The Vermont Division of Forestry is celebrating their first 100 years of supporting Vermonters in their stewardship of one of the state's greatest resources, it's forestland.  To join the celebration of Get Into The Forest, visit www.vtforest.com for information, resources and recommendations to help you help us in our efforts to wisely and actively manage our forests, ensuring their health and productivity for generations to come.

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