|Vermont State Parks
Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks
Greetings from the parks!
You know, just about everybody you talk to in Vermont says this has been the most glorious spring ever! Our forests and fields have just exploded in lush greenery seemingly earlier and more vivid than usual. That means, of course that our equally glorious summer is right around the corner!
We are excited to be your hosts again this year in our state parks. Unlike some of our neighboring states, Vermont's state parks haven't seen the serious cutbacks in services, and we will be open and in full swing for your visits. In fact, Vermont is investing in state parks at historic levels. We have been making all kinds of improvements to structures and facilities to make them better for you, more energy efficient, and easier to maintain.
Also, new for this year, check out our updated web site, where you can now buy park passes online, get trail info, and find tips on family camping. Stay tuned for our new Vermont State Parks
iphone application and WiFi coming to the parks!
Director, Vermont State Parks
A Sweet Sound: Songs from Thrushes in Vermont State Parks
By Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator
While Park Rangers are working hard to get ready for summer in Vermont, many birds are working hard to make homes for their babies. Migratory birds have been returning to Vermont in the last couple months, and they are singing their beautiful songs throughout the forests and fields. One group of migratory birds you can see and hear in many Vermont State Parks
are the thrushes.
Thrushes are medium sized birds that sing beautiful songs. One common thrush is the American Robin, easy to recognize because of their red bellies. Robins are building nests in trees (and maybe even in lean-tos) across Vermont right now. The female robin builds a nest from the inside out-starting with dead grass and twigs woven into a cup shape. She then reinforces the nest with soft mud and lines the inside with soft grass. You can see robins hunting for worms in grassy areas of many parks including D.A.R.
and Lake St. Catherine
Many thrushes sing unique songs because they can sing more than one note at a time. Perhaps you have been camping near the brook at Little River
State Parks and heard a song of notes spiraling downward. This song, sounding sort of like "veer-y, veer-y, veer-y" in downward notes is from the Veery, a thrush that lives near stream areas. This brown bird, about the size of a Robin, is not flashy to look at, but the song it produces is amazing to hear. Right now, the veery is building a cup nest of dead leaves, bark bits, and small roots at the base of a tree near running water.
The most beloved thrush in Vermont is the Hermit thrush. Although it was heavily debated by the 1941 Vermont legislature, the Hermit thrush was designated as the Vermont State Bird effective June 1, 1941. The main debate centered on the migratory nature of the Hermit thrush. Legislators questioned whether a state should recognize a bird that spends summers in Vermont and winters in the southern United States.
Hermit thrushes are brown forest birds about the size of robins with brown spots on their bellies. Just like the veery, the hermit thrush can sing more than one note at a time. You can hear the ethereal hermit thrush song in the morning and the evening in most Vermont woodlands. The song starts with a long single note, and then spirals upward. Listen for it while you eat dinner or breakfast on your next trip to any Vermont State Park, including Maidstone
, Molly Stark
, and Woodford
State Parks. Hermit thrush nests are similar to veery nests, made of small twigs and roots and set on the ground at the base of trees. All three of these thrushes have light blue eggs, although veery eggs are sometimes spotted. Watch carefully for these nests during your next walk in the woods.
Just like migratory birds, we all want to return to our summer migratory spot-Vermont State Parks
. During your next visit, take a moment to stop and listen in the forest, and you will not be disappointed in the symphony you hear.
Little River, Big Song
Migratory songbirds abound
by Brian Aust, Park Interpreter, Little River State Park
Spring is advancing rapidly in Little River State Park
, so be sure
not to miss it! All the migratory songbirds are back and singing up a storm as their breeding season is underway. In the vicinity of the History Hike
parking lot, birders can easily hear their sweet songs and with a bit of persistence, locate more than twenty species including wood thrush, American redstarts, ovenbirds, ruby-throated hummingbirds, scarlet tanagers, least flycatchers, blackburnian warblers, chestnut-sided warblers, black-throated blue warbler, & black-throated green warbler. More elusive species, such as northern parulas, northern waterthrushes, veeries, and at least one yellow-throated vireo lurk in the foliage along the Nature Trail.
Pink lady's slipper
The late spring ephemerals are waning fast as the summer wildflowers are already starting to bloom a few weeks early. While purple trilliums, trout lilies and wild oats have mostly gone by, foamflowers are in full bloom along the Nature Trail as well as the occasional star flower and, if you look carefully, pink ladyslippers. Canada mayflowers and blue bead lilies are popping up. It's a great time of year for a walk in the woods!
The Nature Center opens on May 30th with guided hikes, paddling trips, and interpretive programs from June to September about the diverse natural history of the park and the 19th-century ruins of Little River Settlement.
Visit and try one of our nature programs:
WONDERFUL WATER CRITTERS! What do stream dwellers tell us about water quality?
EVENING BIRDS BY EAR: Why birds sing & what they tell us about where they live
A TREEmendous Tree
DISCOVERY HIKE: Meet the TREEmendous forest in search of the lost Little River Settlement. Easy to Moderate; wear sturdy footwear.
MAKING TRACKS: Meet your furbearing friends of Little River. Plaster of Paris supplied.
AQUAVENTURE! Explore Waterbury Reservoir looking for herons, kingfishers, Oscar the osprey, maybe a bald eagle.
Please register at the Contact Station. Programs are weather dependent - the Nature Center will be open if cancelled by rain)
STAYING FOUND. Get oriented to using a compass with a map.
Nature Interpreters Return!
An educational program with a Nature Interpreter
This summer you can supplement a trip to your favorite state park with fun guided programs such as evening canoe paddles, stream explorations, and nature art activities; because, there will be ten Park Interpreters and ten Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Park Educators offering entertaining programs in parks across Vermont. This program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus), and is a cooperative partnership between the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, the US Forest Service, and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Ask about the program schedule when you check in on your next visit, or visit the Vermont State Parks Events web page
where we will posting program info.
6/12-6/13 Vermont Days
All weekend - Every Vermont State Park
Join in the fun for FREE this weekend. All state parks are open and free for day use all weekend. On Saturday, June 12th enjoy FREE fishing (no fishing license needed). FREE entry into all State-owned historic sites. And, FREE entry to Vermont's History Museum in Montpelier. This weekend is the perfect time to bring the whole family to enjoy the beautiful state parks.
6/13 Green Mountain Brass Band
Waterbury Center State Park
The Green Mountain Brass Band is a traditional band of over twenty brass and percussion musicians who play a variety of traditional and contemporary music, classics, show tunes, pop, jazz, and rock and, of course, marches.
6/26 VINS Raptor Encounter
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.
6/26 Potluck Supper
Meet new friends or catch up with old pals at Stillwater's Potluck Supper. Bring a dish, something to drink, and your utensils - we supply hamburgers and hotdogs! Check with the office when you check-in to let the rangers know how many will attend this delicious event.
Jared Clark, 2009 Photography Intern
Jared took the awesome banner photo of kayaking at Woodford State Park Jared Clark currently resides in Brattleboro, and grew up in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. He enjoys travel, outdoor activities, kayaking, fishing, hiking and landscape photography. More information and photos can be found on his Smugmug site at http://jaredac.smugmug.com/. Jared has been a Photography Intern with Vermont State Parks since 2008.
Kelly Shultze, 2009 Photography Intern
Kelly took the great shot of a kayak waiting for a paddler at Button Bay State Park that appears at the bottom of this newsletter. Born and raised in Connecticut, Kelly Schulze moved north in 2001 to attend the University of Vermont. She graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor's in Animal Science and has since combined her love of animals, nature and photography by starting her own studio, Mountain Dog Photography, LLC. With a strong desire to travel Kelly has had many photography adventures in both the States and Europe. This summer she has decided to explore the state that she loves the most by photographing for the Vermont State Parks. She can be seen this summer working with her Nikon D700 full frame DSLR, Rapid Omega 100 medium format rangefinder, and Hasselblad 500 C/M medium format modular SLR. To view more of her work please visit www.mountaindogphotography.net.
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
Grand Isle gets a new cabin!
Pardon Our Progress
Your park system is benefitting from an investment of capital construction funds at a level not seen since the 1970s. We have many exciting and worthwhile projects planned or underway that will be completed over the next year. The attraction to our parks of course is their unmatched natural beauty and range of recreational opportunities, but we all know once you arrive, nice facilities in good working order are important as well. Our purpose is to accomplish long lasting projects that bring immediate value to our visitor's experience, but which will also stand the test of time and represent a sound long term investment.
There are over 130 projects ranging in scope from a major beach house renovation and three new toilet buildings, to new cabins and septic system upgrades, to many smaller projects such as lean-to repairs and roofing. Despite the large number of projects, we want you to know that we will do everything we can to minimize the impact on your visit. To a large extent, we will accomplish this due to the nature of many of the projects and timing of construction. In fact, many of these projects have already been completed! However there are a few cases where minor disruptions will be unavoidable. Please refer to the particular park webpage for a summary of any projects that may cause a disruption to that particular park.
Please come and see what is happening, stay tuned, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments!
We hope that the restroom and shower facility replacement will be ready by opening day, or soon thereafter.
We are working on restoring the exterior stonework of the CCC-era beach house. The concession stand and bathrooms will not be impacted, but you'll notice some work going on outside the building.
The CCC-era picnic shelter and group camping area will be unavailable for most of the season. The shelter will be renovated and the foundation repaired. In addition, we are working on clearing the view from the shelter and group area.
The beach house will be closed for the entire season for comprehensive renovations. The beach will be open, boat rentals will still be available and there will be temporary restrooms onsite. The shelter will still be available with portable toilets located nearby.
The historic CCC Spruce lean-to will be blocked off for repairs after Labor Day, but any existing reservations will be honored.
We are finishing up the replacement of a restroom and shower facility which we hope will be ready soon after opening. The existing bathroom will be functioning until the new one is ready. We are hoping to have a new campsite in place of the old bathroom. Campsites 45, 46, 47, and 48 will be removed from inventory to make room for the new facility. Also, look for two new cabins in the park that we hope to have ready by June.
A brand new restroom and shower facility is being constructed. We hope this will be done by opening; however, the old restroom will be functioning and won't be demolished until the new one is ready.
There will be a temporary office set up while the ranger residence/office foundation is replaced. We don't have an exact timeline yet but the project should start in early June and go through much of the summer. Also, the CCC picnic shelter will be renovated and repaired, which will take the shelter out of service for several weeks. The timeline has yet to be determined.
Beautiful North Hero State Park
Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, twenty campsites within the park's former 126-site campground will re-open for self-register/self pay remote area camping. We are excited to be able to offer this option in the face of budget issues. North Hero State Park campground was closed during the 2009 season due to it high operating costs. We hope that many people will take advantage of this primitive camping experience and visit North Hero one of the more 'off the beaten path' parks amongst the 52 beautiful Vermont State Parks.
One of the Best Parks for Peaceful, Private Outdoor EnjoymentNorth Hero offers primitive camping
What does this mean as regards camping atNorth Hero State Park? Twenty of the sites within the camping "loop" offer access to Lake Champlain and provide camping, picnicking and cooking ability on a fire ring. Fourteen of these sites are vehicle-accessible, and 6 are walk-in only. A special benefit to paddlers are sites 88 and 89 which are in proximity to the paddlers' landing point (approximately a 50-yard portage). These sites are set aside for exclusive use by paddlers.
Campsites are first-come, first served. Reservations will not be accepted. Those who may be concerned about site availability may call ahead (802-372-8727) and listen to the park's outgoing message, which will be updated multiple times each day.
What about facilities? There is potable water available at spigots throughout the campground, but the toilet and shower facilities are not in operation. Instead, there are chemical toilets (portalets) available for camper use. Firewood and ice sales are available only during limited office hours at the park's entrance station.
The camp fee is $5.00 per person per night, and campers will be expected to self-register and self-pay, following instructions posted at the entrance station/park office. Resident park staff will be available to assist, but will have limited hours.
If you haven't been to North Hero's paddler's landing, it's not obvious from the water. You will find it on the west shore of the island, approximately ¼-mile south of North Hero Island's northern tip (and the more obvious day use beach and motor boat launch). Look for an LCPT sign affixed to a tree, which marks the start of a short woods road leading directly to the campsites, some 150' - 200' back from shore.
Feel free to call North Hero State Park at 802-372-8727. Leave a message and the friendly park staff will return you call as soon as they can.
Take the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge and win FREE park entry for this year and all of next year!
You and your family can spend the season outside and earn points for visiting beautiful places and doing fun adventures!
Venture Vermont awards points for completing activities such as bicycle rides, tree climbs, racing to set up a tent, or learning how to tie a new knot. You don't have to do these activities in a state park - they can be done anywhere!
If you earn 250 points you will be awarded a Gold VIP Pass to Vermont State Parks. With it, you are given FREE day entry for any Vermont State Park for the rest of the season and next year's too!
Start today by downloading a score sheet. Keep track of your points, document all of your activities by taking photos, and send your score sheet and photos back to us for your Gold VIP Pass! Each score sheet and pass is for one individual, but families are encouraged to do activities together and share their photos. Just keep a score sheet for each family member and take group photos.
Enjoy Vermont State Parks for FREE
June 12th & 13th
Pack up the kids and bring your picnic basket, fishing poles, or a good book and come enjoy the parks all weekend for free! All Vermont State Park day areas and historic sites will be open.
A special day, Saturday, June 12th, is free fishing day. Anyone can go fishing in the state parks without a fishing license. We hope you catch some big ones!