Ripples: The Newsletter of the
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
In The Field
May 2013


Respect.          Protect.          Enjoy.


In This Issue:
From the Secretary's Desk: Spotlight On ANR's Field Staff
Behind The Scenes Of Vermont State Parks: An Interview With Nick Caputo, FPR State Parks Regional Ranger Supervisor
Why Every Lake Needs A VIP
On The Line: Fighting Wildfires In Vermont Forests
Working With Vermont Farmers To Improve Water Quality And Support Sustainable Agriculture
Adventures In Geologic Mapping
Vermont State Parks Open For The Season!
Quick Links
Shoshone Butte - Sacha Pealer

Confluence: Rivers and Mountains, Art and Science, Workmates and Friends
What happens when three friends share a passion for science and art? Creative collaboration in the case of Gretchen Alexander, Sacha Pealer and Ned Swanberg, three scientists who work for the Rivers Program in the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
A collection of their artwork is being featured at the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery on Jericho, VT. The show runs from May 30 - June 16 and the public is invited to an opening reception on Sunday June 2nd from 1-4pm.
The collaboration was borne out of conversations which revealed a mutual interest in nature journaling. Upon Ned's suggestion, the three started to share a journal to record drawings and writings. Over the past few years Alexander, Pealer and Swanberg passed the journal around and took turns recording their observations and feelings during the course of their daily work and lives. This show is a next step in their artistic journey and features a variety of subject matter and mediums. Their shared journal will also be on display adn the artists will give a brief talk about their works during the opening reception. 

Vermont Celebrates Arbor Day With A Tree Planting On The Statehouse Lawn.


What's going on in the picture at the top of the page? At a statehouse ceremony, Governor Peter Shumlin recognized Vermont's Tree City, USA communities, Tree Line USA utilities and Tree Campus universities. He congratulated student artists in the Growing Works of Art contest that celebrates the maple tree, and kep with tradition as he helped plant the annual Arbor Day tree on the Statehouse lawn. In addition to the ceremony, tours of the Statehouse forest, a 14-acre parcel on the hillside behind the Statehouse, were offered to showcase the recent work of two University of Vermont students, Meredith Whitney and Alex Potash, who researched the goods and services provided by the forest, as well as its history. Read more here.

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ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz
From the Secretary's Desk: Spotlight On ANR's Field Staff


Vermont weather is a fickle friend. Memorial Day weekend was particularly memorable this year for the cold temperatures, flooded roads, high winds and snow! On Monday when the sun finally came out and it warmed to the 60's, Vermont's parks, bike paths and trails filled with people happy to get back outside. I had the good fortune of hiking with my daughter (home from college) up to Sterling Pond in Mansfield State Forest.


Water from the recent rain cascaded down the mountain and dozens of red trillium were peeking out of the snow - still in bloom. We saw many other hikers, some with fishing poles, heading up the steep, well-maintained trail, to enjoy the sunny day at the top of the mountain.


At the top we saw a sign warning hikers to stay on the path to protect sensitive natural areas. When my daughter saw that the sign had the ANR Forests, Parks and Recreation Department logo on it, she noted that we take for granted that someone has to work to keep our trails safe and passable for hikers, and to make sure that hikers and other people protect the environment.


This issue of Ripples describes some of the work ANR staff do outside every spring and summer, from maintaining hiking trails to collecting water samples to test for water quality. We also describe some opportunities for you to get involved with what we do. When you read the articles you will realize that ANR staff have some of the very best jobs in state government. They get to be outside in beautiful, sometimes remote parts of the state, doing important work to protect our health, to enhance our experience of the outdoors and to preserve Vermont's environment for this and future generations.


Many of our field staff are dedicated to providing the public with the opportunity to enjoy Vermont; I hope that each of you will celebrate their efforts by heading outside to experience Vermont's outdoors this month.

Nick Caputo, FPR Parks Regional Ranger Supervisor

Behind The Scenes Of Vermont State Parks: An Interview With Nick Caputo, FPR State Parks Regional Ranger Supervisor


Each year in the spring, Vermont's four Regional Ranger Supervisors interview, hire and train hundreds of seasonal employees who will staff Vermont's 52 state parks for the season. Once the parks open, these same four will ensure that the parks are operating smoothly. "We do everything," Nick Caputo shares. "We order all of the operational supplies necessary to run the parks. We field complaints that come in from customers who may have had an issue at a particular park, or a bad experience. It's our job to address any customer issues with park staff, to ensure that they are providing the best possible experience for our visitors. We make sure each park office is stocked with merchandise and brochures, and that concession stands are operating smoothly and offering products that provide a benefit for our guests."


In addition to supervising seasonal staff and ensuring a smooth and pleasant visitor experience, Caputo and his colleagues oversee improvement projects within the parks, inspect them for safety hazards and meet with day use visitors, campers and other park guests. "There really aren't a lot of tasks that fall outside of our job description," explains Caputo. "I address nuisance wildlife when it presents a danger to visitors. I am a certified playground safety inspector. If there is something that is related to the operation of a park, or that impacts a visitor's experience, it's part of my job to know about it and address it."


One of the projects that Caputo has been spearheading is an effort to get both locally-produced and healthier options into parks concession stands. "It's been an experiment," he shares. Read more.


Why Every Lake Needs A VIP

By Bethany Sargent, DEC Watershed Management Division


A rainbow of brightly hued canoes and kayaks appear beached on the grass as a collection of a dozen or so paddlers apply sunscreen, locate water bottles and don PDF's. We're at the Fish & Wildlife Access Area at the mouth of Memphremagog's South Bay in Newport, and fortunately, the rain that threatened all morning finally broke to hot, humid sunshine. "Do you have any more view scopes?" one paddlers asks. "Sure," I say, and retrieve another scope from the back of the truck. We're about ready to push off. One by one, we carry our boats to the ramp and climb in, digging paddles into the mud to try to make forward progress in the shallows. Eventually, we cluster our canoes and kayaks about 30 feet from shore and this is when the fun really begins.


Everyone here is training to be a VIP; yes, a Very Important Person, but more specifically, a Vermont Invasive Patroller. This dedicated group of volunteers surveys their favorite water body for aquatic invasive species, like Eurasion watermilfoil and water chestnut, twice each summer and reports their findings to the Vermont DEC. With over 800 lakes and ponds scattered across the state, VIP's play a critical role in detecting invasives before they become well-established, before eradication and even control can simply be too difficult and costly.


Aquatic invasive species have several common characteristics. Read more.

West Mountain WMA Prescribed Burn

On The Line: Fighting Wildfires In Vermont Forests

By Lars Lund, FPR Forest Resource Protection

The Agency of Natural Resources has a long history with forest fire suppression, dating back to 1904 when a Forestry Commission and the Town Forest Fire Warden system were created by the Vermont Legislature. THis was in response to devastating forest fires in 1903 that burned thousands of acres of timberland. The Forestry Commission soon became the Vermont Forest Service, and through many changes in titles and missions, this sector of state government is now housed within the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The current Town Forest Fire Warden system is overseen by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR).


Once again, this past spring contained a long dry stretch of weather featuring many consecutive days of very high fire danger. Read more.


Working With Vermont Farmers To Improve Water Quality And Support Sustainable Agriculture

By Marli Rupe, DEC Agricultural Water Quality Specialist


What do farms, water quality and the Agency of Natural Resources have in common? One might not expect to find a farm inspector hidden within the Agency of Natural Resources, however since May 2012 the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Stormwater Program has included an Agricultural Water Quality Specialist. The role of this position is to enforce water quality regulations on farms, as well as to increase collaboration and partnerships among sister agencies, federal partners and the broader agricultural community. The VT Agency of Agriculture is appropriately seen as the lead in agricultural education and enforcement, however the VT DEC provides a key role in that effort as the entity designed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting authority in VT for the federal Clean Water Act. Those who are familiar with NPDES permits for stormwater may not realize that the program also covers farms, using yet another acronym: CAFO.


Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are farms that fit specific statutory criteria based on size or discharge. Read more.

Hogback Mountain in Bristol, VT
Adventures In Geologic Mapping
By Jon Kim, Vermont Geological Survey


As one drives southward along Route 116 into the Town of Bristol, an ancient fault lies near the base of the hills to your left (east) and kilometer-scale folds form the steep ridge (Hogback Mountain) to the right (west). About 450 million years ago, the rocks to the east were pushed over those to the west along the Hinesburg Thrust Fault, during a major mountain-building event. Approximately 14,000 years ago, both the Route 116 and Monkton Road valleys were filled by a deep glacial lake. The Vermont Geological Survey (VGS) and Norwich University partner will be constructing geologic maps of the bedrock and surficial (glacial) deposits in this general area during the 2013 field season. For the 12th year, interns from the University of Vermont and Middlebury College will accompany the VGS mappers for 8 weeks, and all will conduct senior thesis research based on this experience. Work began on this project in 2012. The VGS receives funding for these mapping projects through the U.S. Geological Survey STATEMAP program. In order to be selected for mapping, towns or other public entities annually apply to a Vermont STATEMAP committee that competitively evaluates proposals. The Bristol Conservation Commission proposed mapping in their town to help address the issues of groundwater quantity and quality and sand and gravel availability. Read more.


Vermont State Parks Open For The Season! 


Vermont State Parks are open for the season! The unofficial start of the summer season kicked of with a chilly (and in some places snowy) Memorial Day weekend. Despite the cold, reservations for Vermont State Parks flowed in. As of Memorial Day, all 52 Vermont State Parks are staffed and open to the public. You can learn more about each park's operating season here.


With mud season behind us and high-elevation trails open to hiking, day use at the parks is another great option. Hiking, picnicking, swimming, paddling and other recreational opportunities are a great way to wile away a summer day.


New this year, check out the VSP website "Camping Tips & Tricks" resource. There are how to videos, checklists, instructions sheets, weekend itineraries, activity ideas, suggested hikes and paddling locations, Andriod & iPhone apps, free how-to-camp clinics in the parks and more!


For those who are looking for family fun, check out the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge. The Challenge is essentially a huge, outdoor scavenger hunt that takes place throughout the season at Vermont State Parks. Simply download a score sheet from the website, choose and photograph the activities you do between April 1st and October 15th, and when you reach 250 points, submit your score sheet and photos to Vermont State Parks to receive free day use for the rest of the 2013 season and all of 2014.

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Contact Us:

Deb Markowitz, Secretary

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources