Vermont State Parks
Craig Whipple enjoying a paddle
Well, as you can see from this latest newsletter, there is never a dull moment in Vermont State Parks! Despite the floods that began and ended our prime season, we have once again seen near record attendance.
I'm sure you join me in congratulating all parks staff who worked tirelessly to make sure your favorite park was ready for you. Our staff is second to none, for sure! Amidst all that, we had a lot of fun this summer, didn't we? Music, games, interpretive programs of all sorts, weddings, family reunions, the parks were full of people having fun, summertime adventures.
And I sure enjoyed meeting a number of you while playing the "Where's Whipple?" contest! But, just because summer has passed, there's no need to pack away that outdoor equipment! Fall is the ideal time to get outdoors in Vermont. Half of our campgrounds are still operating through Columbus Day weekend. The foliage is beautiful, the crowds have thinned out, and the weather can be absolutely gorgeous. So come on back and join us!
See you out there!
Director, Vermont State Parks
Best Places to go for a Hike
By Susan Bulmer, Region IV Parks Manager
Region IV Manager
Regional Manager, Susan Bulmer has had a life long passion for the outdoors. Growing up in Wisconsin, her parents instilled in her an appreciation and love for nature from a young age. Since she was able to walk, she has hiked, and since she was able to hold a fishing rod, she has fished.
Susan, who has worked in the outdoors and in parks since she was fifteen, started her first job working for the Youth Conservation Corps in Wisconsin. She has been with Vermont State Parks for over 23 years and a regional manager for over 11 years. With much hiking and fishing experience and many adventures under her belt, Susan shared her favorite places in Vermont (many in the NE region of Vermont where she works most) to go for a hike or to catch a great fish below.
Susan's favorite hikes
- Easy: Owl's Head - great views of the Groton Forest and of Camel's Hump
- Moderate: Mt. Elmore's Firetower - trail work done at
the bottom of the trail this summer makes it an even better hike (a new trail connecting 'Balancing Rock' to the beaver pond is in the works too!)
|Mt. Mansfield hikers|
- Difficult: Sunset Trail to Mt. Mansfield - Access through Underhill State Park. This hike has a most rewarding summit
- Peaceful/Less Traveled: Worcester Mt. - accessible from Middlesex, this hike is moderate to difficult, but an easy one on which to get lost in your own thoughts
Susan's favorite fishing spots (each of these is close to a grill too, so you can cook what you catch right there!)
at Seyon Lodge
Prior to being a Vermont State Parks Regional Manager, Susan worked with the Water Resources Board to create rules for public water use. Due to these rules, we can enjoy less noise and water traffic on many of the smaller lakes and ponds. Whether you are looking for the peace and quiet or want to do a popular Vermont hike, enjoy the fall weather and have fun!
A Tale of Recovery:
Spring Flood and Irene
Thoughts by Rob Peterson, Region III Manager, Vermont State Parks
|Regional Manager, Rob Peterson|
Rob Peterson stepped into his new job as Regional Parks Manager of the Lake Champlain parks just in time for the spring flood (early May). After Tropical Storm Irene hit a few weeks ago, he was able to reflect on the similarities between the two, what made recovery from challenges like these possible, and how good things can come out of bad.
In his words: The flooding experienced this spring along Lake Champlain and the flooding experienced all over this state from Tropical Storm Irene, are completely different events, completely different kinds of flooding. [Irene] took lives, it changed lives, and was a deeply emotional event which will impact generations of Vermonters for years to come. Even though [region III's spring] flooding wasn't as severe or deadly as the flooding from Irene, we still needed to figure out how to keep going and recover. Here's how we did it.
What kept the parks going after the spring flood
|A bit of a wet BBQ at Sand Bar State Park|
1. Our Veteran Staff and Humor!
These people know the region and what the parks needed to operate. Their skills, positive attitudes, ideas, sense of humor, and creativity helped us recover quickly. In a crisis like these floods, people matter the most. Keeping their senses of humor also helped immensely. With so much destruction, it's hard to find many things funny, but our staff really saw the bright side and made working to clean it up much more enjoyable.
2. Flexibility and Patience
Chuck and Joan Murray from Sand Bar State Park were homeless as their ranger house was powerless without sewer or an access point unless you owned chest waders, but they were willing to go anywhere and do anything, working wherever they could. Another ranger, Jim Fuller and the staff at Grand Isle found projects for our other displaced rangers. Moe, from Alburg Dunes, had a long wait moving to the Alburg Dunes Ranger house, so he lived at his home, worked at the dunes and wherever else, including Carmi, Grand Isle, and Knight Point. Mike, at Knight Point was able to find projects to work on, while sharing responsibilities in the park with various Park Ranger Refugees. How could I forget to mention the crew from Burton Island, who played their own version of survivor, living on Burton Island without potable water for several weeks. Without their willingness to sacrifice and live in this primitive nature, Burton wouldn't have opened until August.
|St. Johnsbury Academy was one of many groups who volunteered|
The bottom line is that communication was our most important line of defense during the actual flooding. For a state park, it's a lot easier to be open, than it is to be closed, especially when you're supposed to be open. Lisa Liota, Knight Island Ranger and Region III Volunteer Coordinator helped us organize helping hands and make their concerns and opinions understood. The value of having a volunteer coordinator was to provide somebody who could listen to the volunteer requests, find out their skill level, and figure out where they preferred to work to get help in the right spots. Many of the volunteers grew up in our parks and had poignant childhood memories there. We owed it to them to listen and let them take care of us. Those volunteers helped us get back on our feet much faster than we expected.
Good Things Came Out of Bad
Jimmy Putnam, Burton Island Ranger, and I decided that these floods can be viewed as Mother Nature's version of Extreme Makeover, State Park Style, because according to Jimmy, the sites at Burton Island have never looked so good. Whatever can be made of it, I'm certainly grateful. I learned to know my staff and developed relationships in weeks, which might have taken years to establish.
|Who's the Best? Four Parks Claim the Coveted
"Park of the Year" Title
|Camp Plymouth Staff|
Each year, one park from each of the four regions of Vermont is chosen for its outstanding customer service and park operations as Park of the Year. In addition to the recognition and bragging rights, the park earns the Park of the Year banner to display all the following year.
|Lake Carmi Staff|
This year, the winners ranged from one of the busiest and largest parks in the state to one of the quietest and remote parks. Equally deserving, the winners are:
|Half Moon Staff|
Camp Plymouth State Park
Maidstone State Park
Lake Carmi State Park
Half Moon State Park
Way to go!!
Read the blog article about the Parks of the Year, here.
Events, Events, Events!
Thursday, September 29
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Sunset Foliage Aquadventure Paddle
Little River State Park
Discover the quiet waters of Waterbury Reservoir and take in the beautiful fall foliage. Registration is required prior to the program. Once registered, pick up your life vests and paddles at the Contact Station before 5:30pm All abilities welcome. Meet at the A-side Swimming Beach (weather dependent)
Saturday, October 8
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Cider Pressing FestivalSeyon Lodge State Park
Join us in celebrating autumn's bounty at beautiful Seyon Lodge State Park! Cider pressing, live folk music by Wall Stiles, and good food including apple desserts and fresh pizza. See you there!
Saturday, October 15
Haunted Halloween CampgroundQuechee State Park
Decorate your campsite for Ranger Lisa's favorite holiday, Halloween. Staff will be in costume for the day and campers are invited to join us. Bring your pumpkins for Jack-o-lantern carving at 10:00 AM. Trick-or-treating begins at 5:30 PM at the office and host sites. After 7:00 PM, there will be a haunted walk in forest for the courageous. The woods will be full of haunts from wizards to vampires. The last walk will leave around 9:00 PM. Also, bobbing for apples and marshmallow roasting at a campfire will be going on for those waiting to walk. **Volunteers needed!** Call the park to volunteer for this great event or for more details, 802-295-2990.
|This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks.|
Light up a campfire, bring out the marshmallows, and save some s'mores for us!
Vermont State Parks
Park Event: Chainsaw Demonstrations End With A Bear
Mark creates large and small sculptures
Artist Mark LeClair, is comfortable creating beautiful wooden bears using a non-traditional carving tool, a chainsaw.
How did you get into chainsaw carving?
I started with small hand tools just carving. About two years ago, I saw a show on TV where the man was carving with a chainsaw and decided to give it a shot. I've been using a chainsaw since I was 15 and have extensive experience. By mimicking the guy on TV who carved a bear, I was able to make my own.
What is the best type of wood to use?
Softwoods. Pine is what I usually use. It's easier to carve and easier on my saws.
Have you done ice sculptures?
I've been asked about that before. I haven't done any ice carving...something about ice doesn't fit with me. I'll stick with the wood carving.
Do you sell what you make? Where can people get one for themselves?
When I do a program in one of the State Parks, like this past summer in Branbury, Lake Carmi, Sand Bar, and Grand Isle, I donate a carved bear to the park. Also, while I'm doing the demonstration, my wife hands out tickets to all the kids in the audience. At the end of the show we do a raffle for one of my little 12" bears for them to take home. I do sell them too. The easiest way to get one is to stop by my place, 430 Kellogg Road in St. Albans.
What is your favorite part about visiting the parks?
I like all the state parks, but really like Grand Isle and Branbury. The staff at both places are really great. They're courteous and helpful especially with some bigger crowds that I drew for my program. I also got a chance to camp and the campsites were really nice. There are great people in the parks too, lots of good families. It's just a great place to be.
Will you stay with the same parks next year for your program and to camp?
I'm looking forward to traveling further south and seeing some new parks, but I'd happily go back to the parks where I've already visited.
|Mark with one of his finished products|
Any advice to those out there wanting to get into this craft?
My main advice to those wanting to do chainsaw carving would be make sure you have chainsaw experience. It's different from cutting firewood. You are using the saw differently, using the tip a lot and when you do that you risk more kickback. People have been known to get seriously hurt from kickback. It's very dangerous. When I'm doing this, safety comes first. I have a plan and think about each cut before doing it. I do not recommend this for those that just want to try it at home. You have to know what you're doing.
What's your favorite part about doing chainsaw carving demonstrations in Vermont State Parks?
Being able to travel and seeing different places and the expression on people's faces after I've created something. I'm so focused during the show that I don't look up much. When I finally shut the saw off, then I can see how many people have been watching and what they think about what I've created.
You can find out more about Mark or order some of his work, by visiting his facebook page, etsy page, or stopping by his place in St. Albans.
Thank you for doing such a great program, Mark, and we'll see you in the parks next year!
Water Under the Bridge: Parks Are Ready for Foliage Season Visitors
The following parks are open until Oct.10 or later* and are ready for fall visitors. Check out the parks and why people like to stay there.
Branbury State Park - camping/day use park with lots of space to play
Brighton State Park - Spectacle Pond and Island Pond are perfect paddling ponds
Button Bay State Park -
camping/ day use park with a cool nature center
Grand Isle State Park - always something fun going on here, great camping too
Kingsland Bay State Park - an ideal location for a wedding or other event
Coolidge State Park - a hikers paradise, all trails have views...many are steep!
Elmore State Park - a good hiking and paddling park, also check out their events
Molly Stark State Park - one of the Parks of the Year! - ask the staff which trails they like best
Mt. Ascutney State Park* - a steep climb - bike or hike it
Mt. Philo State Park* - good family hiking and plenty of picnic space on the summit
New Discovery State Park - popular for horses, trail rides are great here
Smugglers' Notch* - popular with leaf peepers the Mt. Road closes in winter, but hiking is year round
Underhill State Park* - a mountain park with great views on the sunset trail
Green River Reservoir - no motor boats here, this park keeps its waters quiet
Half Moon State Park - popular with campers, this park is quieter than its neighbor Bomoseen
Emerald Lake State Park - fish or paddle on this great lake
Kettle Pond State Park - remote camping and paddling - you feel like civilization is far far away
Little River State Park - check out the nature programs after paddling, Brian always has something going on
Ricker Pond State Park - another remote park, great staff and good fishing too
Woodford State Park - a southern Vermont park set in rolling hills
Jamaica State Park - catch some fish and check out the history in this park
Quechee State Park* - ask Lisa what events are happening here too
Seyon Lodge State Park* - amazing brook trout fishing here, be ready to catch a lot
Wilgus State Park - fish out of the CT River and check out the flying squirrels too
No matter which park or parks you visit, be sure to take in the beautiful changing of the leaves and fresh air. Enjoy!
|A Big Thanks to our 2011 Photo Interns!
Mike took great photos at many of the parks, such as the one taken at Branbury, shown at the beginning of the newsletter.
Click here to see more of Mike's work.
Lene captured special moments such as the end photo taken at Little River.
Click here to see more of Lene's work.