|Vermont State Parks
|Greetings Vermont State Parks Friends!
'Tis the season for getting outdoors with family and friends and we are seeing lots of you in the parks this summer! Although the weather hasn't entirely cooperated so far, when there has been a break in the rainy pattern, day use areas are mobbed with visitors. Most of our hearty campers show up rain or shine! Camping in the rain has its own appeal, it just takes a little preparation. It's all about getting out there and enjoying all that Vermont outdoors has to offer. It's just as beautiful and valuable whether under clouds or sunshine. So, as soon as you finish reading this newsletter...go on and get outside! Enjoy!
Director, Vermont State Parks
The Outdoor Observer:
By Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator
Think about your earliest, most vivid experience in nature. Perhaps it was the smell of pine needles in the sun when you were three; maybe it was riding your BMX bike over the railroad tracks into a vacant lot; or maybe you remember accidentally squishing a prickly caterpillar in the palm of your hand. Vivid, first-hand encounters are what make the most important and most memorable experiences for people. It gets harder to notice the significance of these events as we grow into adults, but there are ways to encounter our familiar world in new and amazing ways. Summertime is the perfect season to practice being six years old again.
One technique is to take a closer look at the things around you. Have you ever purchased a new car and then suddenly noticed all the cars around you that are the same make and model as yours? Previously you did not notice Datsun pickup trucks, but after buying one you are seeing those rust buckets everywhere! The same technique of noticing things for the first time as they become interesting to you can be used to make new discoveries in nature.
You can try out this up-close observation method to look for salamanders in the forest during your next visit to your favorite state park. Conditions in the parks have been perfect for moisture-loving amphibians so they have been very active. You have probably seen or heard frogs in the weeds next to your choice swimming spot, and perhaps you have seen toads hopping around in the forest. Frogs, toads and salamanders are all amphibians - animals that lead two lives because they start out as tadpoles in the water and then they become adults that can live on land.
I wonder if you have noticed a small bright orange salamander walking along a trail beside you? Those salamanders are red efts - the juvenile form of a unique amphibian called the eastern newt. This salamander is special because it leads three lives instead of two.
If you look closely in the right places, you will be able to see at least two of these life stages. Eastern newts start out as tadpoles in water like other amphibians, then they change into the land-dwelling red eft stage, then they move back into the water for their adulthood. These hardy amphibians can live in lakes and ponds with fish, and can live up to fifteen years in the wild.
This summer has been great for amphibians because they thrive in moist conditions, so it is the perfect time to test your observational skills. Look for the bright orange red eft along any wooded trail or on the forest floor near your campsite after a rain shower. Watch for the brown colored adults resting on the bottom of your favorite pond near the shore, or swimming along the surface with their wide tails. Now that you know what to look for, you will be seeing these unique amphibians everywhere, just like you started seeing Datsun pickup trucks all over the place after you purchased one. Hold one in your hand and you will remember what it was like to hold a salamander for the very first time.
Easy Camp Cooking:
Gourmet S'mores and Meals in a Bag
by Maria Mayer, Parks Regional Manager, Southwest Region
August 10 is National S'mores Day!
I vividly remember my first camping trip with my parents, circa 1975. It involved a station wagon, ancient canvas army tent, Coleman stove and lantern and a great site right near the lake. We swam for hours, hiked and then cooked outside on the Coleman. Unfortunately I over did it. No, not too much sun or exercise and I was too young to drink - it was the S'mores. Way, way too many, causing just a bit of a tummy ache.
I still enjoy S'mores in moderation. While my kids like the traditional version I prefer to dress them up a bit. Try these variations (don't read on if you're a purist):
- Andes Candies instead of Hershey's
- Chocolate chip cookies instead of graham crackers (what do you do with leftover graham crackers anyway unless you have a 3 year old or chickens?)
- Almonds and coconut pressed into the marshmallow (a la Almond Joy)
- Peanut butter cups instead of Hershey's - or just a dab of PB on the graham cracker
- Tart dried cherries or banana slices pressed into marshmallow
So, with a word to the wise: if you choose to partake please do so responsibly!
Healthy Camp Food
Out having fun in Vermont state parks? Me too! Fishing, hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, running, ....whew! Makes a girl hungry. Here are some quick ideas for healthy eats while camping.
Mediterranean Chicken Packets
I like that the ingredients are mostly canned - easy for camping. You can store the feta, seasoning and olive oil in one small jar in your cooler, making the whole thing very easy to assemble. Serves 4.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
- 4 artichoke hearts (from 14 oz. can), quartered
- 12 Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
- 4 tsp. capers
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta (2 oz.)
- 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tbs. olive oil
1. Place four 12-inch squares of parchment paper or heavy-duty foil on a work surface. Place a chicken breast on one half of each square, leaving a 2-inch border; season with salt and pepper.
2. Dividing evenly, top chicken with tomatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, and feta. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and oil. Fold parchment over ingredients, and crimp edges to seal.
3. Place packets on grill, turning until chicken is opaque throughout, 20 to 22 minutes.
Herbed Fish Packets
Best part about this one is you can use your Catch of the Day! Serves 2
- 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
- 2 lemon slices, halved, plus 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 skinless salmon fillets (6 to 8 oz.) or Your Catch of the Day!
1. Fold two large pieces of foil (about 15 by 16 inches) in half to crease; open, and lay them flat.
2. On one side of crease, mound zucchini; top with shallot, oil, dill, and lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper. Place fish on top; drizzle with lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
3. To close, fold foil over fish; make small overlapping pleats to seal the open sides and create a half-moon-shaped packet. Place on grill until salmon is opaque throughout, 15 to 17 minutes.
4. Serve. You can either place the packet on a plate and cut it open, or make a slit in the paper and use a large metal spatula to transfer the contents to a serving plate.
This is just a sampling - See more at our Events Page
All events are open to the public and free with paid park entry
8/2 Jessica Prouty Band
Sand Bar State Park
The Jessica Prouty Band is a teenage rock band that does a set of originals and covers. They have played the Hard Rock, Hampton Beach, Higher Ground, and numerous fairs, festivals and camps. This band is enjoyed by all ages because of the clean, on-pitch vocals.
8/7 and Every Friday - Farmers' Market
3:30 - 6:30 PM
Fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, crafts and more. Everything is grown within 10 miles of the park. Buy local, hike to the top of Philo and enjoy a picnic!
8/8 2nd Annual Pirates' Treasure Hunt
Arrrgh! Come join the fun and hunt for pirates' treasure off the cove of Spectacle Pond. Beware mateys, the ghosts of Black Jack's crew still roam the pond!
8/8 and every Saturday - Saturday Night Music
Bring your own instrument and sit in, sing along or just kick back and enjoy. Park staff will lead a fun evening of music at beautiful Townshend State Park.
8/14 Vermont Forests - Past and Present
Explore the dynamic history of the forested landscape of the Green Mountain State. Discover clues to past lives and learn to recognize the components of a healthy forest ecosystem. Presented by: Raymond Toolan, Lamoille and Orleans County Forester
8/15 Fairy Houses
Have you ever walked in the woods and seen a ring of flowers? This is where the fairies dance and while away the hours... Relive the dreams of childhood and join us at Stillwater as Jacob teaches us how to make fairy houses. Fun for all ages.
8/22 Rick & the Ramblers
Rick and the Ramblers musical menu consists of a hearty serving of high energy, danceable western swing and Vermont-grown original music. A favorite of Vermont State Park visitors.
8/22 Just Duet
Take a sentimental trip into the past with the acoustic music of Just Duet. The husband and wife duo of Pheonyx Rose and Wally Robinson come from Shelburne, VT, and have been singing together for almost ten years. Their unique mix of classic "old-time" songs, light jazz, and original music is blended together with a touch of humor to create an evening of fun entertainment for all ages.
8/29 VINS Raptors
This first-hand encounter with live falcons, hawks, and owls focuses on the natural history, ecology, and adaptations of these efficient predators. Touchable artifacts and hands-on materials round out this special experience.
>>See more park events
Thanks to Patrick O' Donnell, who works for VT Dept. of Tourism & Marketing, his wife Cristin who works for Voc Rehab and their adorable kids Tegan, Finn and Braden for volunteering to be our "camping family" for a photo shoot held recently at Half Moon Pond and Bomoseen state parks. They're regular campers, so they were naturals and we really appreciate them helping us out. The top and bottom banner pics are from Bomoseen State Park, captured by photographer Jeff Clarke. Thanks guys, and see you in the parks!
Patrick Henry is a Vermont State Park Photography Intern. Patrick got the shot of the kids exploring in the grass at Alburg Dunes State Park. Patrick says: "As a freelance photographer for the Charlotte (NC) Observer for over eight years, I covered a wide variety of events from professional sports (Carolina Panthers football & Charlotte Hornets basketball) to cow plop contests in small town South Carolina. It was never boring as each assignment was an adventure.
I have photographed over a hundred weddings (I love shooting someone's most special day!). I love photography and look forward to exploring and documenting our beautiful state parks. To view some of my photos, check out my website: www.patrickhenry.photoreflect.com.."
This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks
Kick your shoes off and stay awhile - and save some s'mores for us!
Vermont State Parks
The energy levels at Elmore are so explosive they have literally reached the Fire Tower on Elmore Mountain. The VYCC park staff has begun offering Nature Hikes up Elmore Mountain; they are available upon request to our visitors any time. These hikes allow us to interact with our visitors, and indulge them in the beauty spots of Vermont. Along with hikes, we try to interact with our guests as much as possible, some of our favorite activities include Friday Games Night, and Saturday Night Campfire, which have become legendary, and bring campers and visitors back week after week. The Saturday Night Campfires at Elmore have drawn crowds ranging from thirty people to two hundred people, and are performed every week, rain or shine. The campfires have become a highlight of our weeks here at Elmore, and our favorite way to get involved with our visitors. Among other exciting events at Elmore include our Free Concert series which began with a recent performance by Larry Lee Ebere, and will be followed up with more performances by Michael Kennedy, and Rick and The Ramblers. We try to engage our visitors at Elmore and make their stay here as enjoyable as we possibly can. Those of you that have come to see Elmore, we hope to see you again, for those of you that have not yet made it out to our neck of the woods, we hope you come out to see all that Elmore State Park has to offer.
The weather may have us all down in the dumps but it sure has not kept the wildlife down. Here at Camp Plymouth we have two bald eagles that spend at least three days a week fishing at Echo Lake, (not sure if they have their fishing license up to date or not). Just a few weeks ago one sat in one of our tall pines overlooking the beach for almost an hour, much to the enjoyment of everyone at the beach. Our resident loons are back on the lake this year as well.
Wilgus State Park
Razor sharp fangs. Inch long claws. Master of the night sky. Ever see a gremlin? Neither have I, but it sounded good. The creatures of the night that I'm referring to are the northern flying squirrels. They perform their death defying leaps and glides from the stone chimneys of the contact station every evening at dusk. A real crowd pleaser with campers and a first-time experience for most.
Quechee State Park
Greetings from the VYCC crew here at Quechee! We have had an amazing first half of summer. Our special events have included a campfire or nature hike which is at 7:00 PM every Saturday night for our campers and have been going exceptionally well when it doesn't rain. We meet at the activities field then begin our hike down the campground trail into the gorge where we point out the highlights of the flora and fauna of our region including the double-tiered beaver ponds and the diverse riparian ecosystem surrounding the gorge. We then return to the fire ring and give a presentation on something pertaining to the natural world ranging from invasive species to migratory birds then have a relaxing meet and greet amongst the campers. We also have recently started doing game nights on Fridays starting at 6:30 PM. We hope everyone else is having a great summer and let's hope for some more sunshine.
Parks Conservation Corps Building for the Future
Nate McKeen, Chief of Park Operations
Throughout each era of Vermont's park system operation and development, youth employment has been a common thread. Beginning with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s to the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) today, thousands of young workers have helped build and maintain our parks. Numerous Vermonters can boast they have worked in a state park at one time or another.
A significant portion of park infrastructure was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the legacy of the CCC lives on throughout our parks in many ways.
Thanks to a grant through the Vermont Department of Labor, the park system has created the Parks Conservation Corps (PCC). This program builds on the CCC legacy by putting four construction crews made up of 18 to 24 year old crew members to work repairing park infrastructure. Similar to the CCC, the goal of the two-year program is to employ young Vermonters while also teaching them valuable construction skills. Each crew is lead by a pair of skilled crew leaders with experience in the building trades. Right now if you visit Mt. Ascutney, Branbury, Underhill, or the Groton Forest you will see the work they are undertaking. Currently the crews are focused on numerous roofing
projects and lean-to repair. The crews will be working through September and tackling a variety of other projects such as masonry repair and cabin construction. Next year the crews will be back in the parks working from May 1 to September 30th.
Much of this important work would not be getting accomplished without the PCC. As one park maintenance technician commented, "This crew has been incredible, they are accomplishing a lot of projects that I just would not be able to get to, plus they are doing quality work!" Russ, a coordinator for the program states, "The Department of Labor has done a great job of recruiting and hiring these young crew members. Each of them already have some construction skills and they are eager to learn."
Venture Vermont is good clean fun!
Do fun things, take photos and earn free park entry. You'll never be stuck for something to do when you particpate in the 2009 Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge. Learn more here.
Forestry Centennial Photo Contest
Get into the forest and take your best shot! In celebration of 100 years of helping Vermonters care for their forests, the contest encourages photographers to explore the important relationship between Vermonters and their forests.
Images must be taken in Vermont and highlight people working in, learning in or enjoying Vermont's forest areas, either rural or urban.
Deadline is October 31, 2009. For more info click here.