Ripples: The Newsletter of the
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
What's New At The ANR
November 2013


Respect.          Protect.          Enjoy.


In This Issue:
From the Secretary's Desk: Offering Thanks for our Shared Bounty
Vermont's New Universal Recycling Law Leads the Way in Diverting Useable Materials from the Landfills
Spotlight On Recreation: An Interview with Jessica Savage, FPR's New Recreation Coordinator
Partnering to Protect Deer in Vermont
Protecting and Restoring Surface Waters through Watershed Planning
The Case for Hunter Access
Celebrate the Holidays with the ANR!
Hunting Staff Picks
Quick Links
We Want to Know What You Think About Ripples, the Newsletter of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
It has been a year since we began publishing the Ripples newsletter. Our goals for the publication of Ripples have been to share with the public some of the work that goes on at the ANR, to provide education and resources for members of the public, and to encourage feedback from our readers on the issues we work on throughout the year.
With a year under our belts, we want to know more about what you think of our newsletter, and whether you believe it is meeting the goals above. We are interested in how we could make the newsletter more useful for our readers. With that in mind, we are asking our readers to complete a brief survey gauging your level of satisfaction with the format, content and frequency of the newsletter. 
The survey should take about 5 minutes to complete and is fully confidential.
Please click here to take the ANR Ripples survey and share your thoughts and ideas about how we could improve future issues of Ripples. 
A great big thank you to each of you who take the time to complete our survey, and to all the folks who take the time out of your busy day to read our newsletter and learn a little more about our work here at the Agency of Natural Resources!
Applications Being Accepted for 2014 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence
Applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence. The awards recognize the actions taken by individuals and organizations to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and promote sustainability. Applications are due by January 27, 2014. Members of the public and staff of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources are encouraged to nominate projects or promote deserving organizations. For more information and a link to the application, please visit
ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz
From the Secretary's Desk: Offering Thanks For Our Shared Bounty


Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I want to wish all of you a wonderful celebration with your families. I love Thanksgiving because our kitchen fills with good smells, lots of cooking commotion and laughter. It is a time we feel connected to each other, our community and our history as we remember back to the Pilgrims who learned from the Native Americans what it would take to live through the winter. Like the earliest Americans we Vermonters know that our continued prosperity depends upon the stewardship of the land we live on. We not only need to ensure that we protect and preserve Vermont's natural environment for future generations, but that we advance Vermont's farm and forest economy today. This season let's support our local farmers, forest product manufacturers and artisans as we fill our homes with holiday cheer.


In this month's issue of Ripples we have articles on a variety of topics - from our new Universal Recycling symbols and a recent report to the legislature on implementation of Vermont's Universal Recycling Law to how we work with hunters to manage Vermont's deer herd. There is also an article on our new approach to managing our watersheds to protect Vermont's water resources through Tactical Basin planning. Finally, we have a wonderful interview with a new ANR employee, Jessica Savage, who is the new Recreation Coordinator for the state. We have a great quality of life in Vermont because of the easy access we have to a whole host of outdoor recreation opportunities. Jessica is working to help promote outdoor recreation on state lands while balancing the competing uses.


After a year of publishing Ripples, we are looking from feedback from you. This issue includes a survey to learn more about our audience, what you think of our content, and what you would like to see more of in the future. I encourage you to share your thoughts and wishes - as with all that we do - we are most successful when we are able to learn from and partner with those who live, work and recreate in our wonderful state.

Student members of Montpelier Middle School's Green Team pose with the recently unveiled universal recycling, food scrap and trash symbols

Vermont's New Universal Recycling Law Leads The Way In Diverting Useable Materials From Landfills


By Bryn Oakleaf, Mia Roethlein and Josh Kelly 


Vermont's new Universal Recycling law (Act 148) puts the state at the forefront of sustainable waste management; now referred to as sustainable materials management. While many other states are moving in this direction, Vermont is the first to adopt statewide landfill disposal bans on recyclables, leaf, yard and clean wood debris, and food scraps. Landfills are becoming more expensive, limited in capacity, and destructive to Vermont's environment through releases of potent greenhouse gas emissions. Landfills and wastewater treatment facilities are the sixth largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the state. Since 2001, Vermont's diversion rate has stagnated at 30-35% and well over half of what is currently being landfilled could be recycled or composted. Materials such as recyclables; leaf, yard and clean wood debris; and food scraps could be put to a better use than taking up limited landfill space and contributing to climate change. One life cycle analysis of a Vermont composting program by the Alliance for Climate Action found that composting a 5-gallon bucket of food scraps prevents emissions equal to burning a gallon of gasoline. In order to improve the recycling rate and make better use of valuable resources, the Vermont legislature unanimously passed the Universal Recycling law (also known as Act 148) in May 2012. The new law bans the disposal of recyclables; leaf, yard and clean wood debris; and food scraps from landfills and requires statewide adoption of unit based pricing (requiring trash disposal charges be on a per unit basis, either by volume or weight, such as a fee per bag or per container) for solid waste services.
Through Universal Recycling, Vermont will be instituting phased-in landfill bans on recyclables; leaf, yard and clean wood debris; and food scraps on a timeline that culminates in 2020. Read more


Jessica Savage pauses to admire the view on Vermont's Long Trail
Spotlight On Recreation: An Interview with Jessica Savage, FPR's New Recreation Coordinator 


Outdoor recreation is a time-honored tradition in the state of Vermont. Among Vermonters, at least 74% of us are participating in some form of outdoor recreation each year. Nationally, participation in outdoor recreation continues to climb as well, with nearly 50% of Americans ages 6 and older participating in some form of outdoor recreation in 2012. For those living on the east coast, Vermont is a premier destination for outdoor rec. enthusiasts. That is evidenced by the impact outdoor recreation has on Vermont's economy, with a full 12% of our gross state product directly tied to outdoor recreation on an annual basis.


This is wonderful news! Whether running, paddling, skiing or hunting, outdoor recreation is healthy for our bodies and minds, supports our economy and is one of the best ways for people of all walks of life to build a connection to the natural world. While we have 52 wonderful state parks to serve the recreation needs of residents and visitors alike, there is a new trend emerging in Vermont: dispersed recreation. People are increasingly recreating off the beaten path, and rather than limiting themselves to parks, they are branching out into backcountry skiing, mountain biking, trail running, climbing and many other activities that take them away from developed campgrounds and into the surrounding wildlands. Given the importance of recreation to the culture and economic health of Vermont, the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation recently created a new position designed to focus solely on recreation. That role has recently been filled by Jessica Savage, who has over a decade of experience working in recreation management.


According to Ms. Savage, "my two main goals are to increase public access to state lands, and to strengthen our partnerships with related organizations who are working to support outdoor recreation in Vermont. What we're really talking about is dispersed recreation, so really increasing attention to hiking, mountain biking, that type of non-state park recreation that is happening in the backcountry."


When asked how, during the course of the 18-month limited service position, she aimed to accomplish the goals above, Jessica explained, "One of the major goals for me is to make sure that we're gathering data that is useful and that helps us make good decisions. I'm working with our regional staff so that we are gathering the right kind of information, so that we can be making proactive, really coordinated decisions."


"I'm also working closely with recreation management groups like the Green Mountain Club (GMC), the Vermont Mountain Biking Association (VMBA), the Climbing Resource Access Group (CRAG), the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), any group that is advocating for recreation or access to recreation in Vermont," Savage continued. "I'm re-examining a lot of our cooperative agreements with these groups, and adding new ones. We tend to see that with these cooperative agreements in place, the public will benefit from better recreation management when these groups are involved. They know their sport, and when they share their knowledge, the people benefit. For example, a member of CRAG recently wrote a climbing guide and many of the sites were on state land. Some of them we knew about, and some of them we didn't. That kind of insight helps us to be proactive, and it helps me to do a better job and get ahead of those trends so that we're really managing well and increasing access in response to increasing interest from segments of the public."


I asked Jessica to talk a little about trends that she is seeing in Vermont. Read more.

Partnering to Protect Deer in Vermont


By Adam Murkowski, F&W Deer Biologist


Vermont's veneration of deer and deer hunting date from before the state's founding. The white-tailed deer, as depicted on our state flag, has become an iconic symbol of the Vermont landscape and each year more than 60,000 hunters take part in the storied tradition of deer hunting in Vermont that brings more than $290 million to the state's economy.


Back in 1791, Vermont became the first state to have a closed season, and to protect the dwindling herd, closed the season for the entire year in 1865. The first regulated season in Vermont was in 1897 and was for bucks only, with a total harvest of 131 animals.


But deer have not always been such a symbol of conservation success. Although a strong conservation mindset led to translocation of a few deer into Rutland County from New York, it wouldn't be until the 1960's before deer returned to Grand Isle County, a place where the deer harvest per mile now triples the state average.


Our current scientifically-driven deer management strategy enables hunters to harvest more than 12,000 deer annually (a far cry from 131). Deer today are in excellent physical condition and are more apt to survive through Vermont's long winters. However, challenges continue. Read more.

Overlooking the South Bay in the town of West Haven
Protecting and Restoring Surface Waters through Watershed Planning
Article and photo by Ethan Swift, DEC Watershed Coordinator

Have you ever visited your favorite swimming hole or fishing spot and wondered about the quality of water, health of the fishery, or how you can get involved to help monitor and protect our water resources? One collaborative means to do this is through watershed planning.


A watershed is like a bathtub; all of the water that falls within it drains to a common outlet. In the case of the Otter Creek watershed, it is all of the land from the town of Dorset in Bennington County northward to the Town of Ferrisburgh in Addison County, draining over 900 square miles into Lake Champlain. From the Green Mountain spine on the eastern half of the basin to the Champlain Lowlands on the western half, many different types of land and their uses can all have affects on water quality in the Otter Creek. While it is hard to imagine that an activity occurring near the Creek in Rutland can have an effect on the surface water quality in Brandon, it is often the cumulative effects of many different activities that can cause degradation, or a lowering of water quality.


Often, political boundaries usually do not coincide well with the natural drainage boundaries of a watershed. Thus, the most effective watershed planning is developed in cooperation with other communities within the watershed. Several different organizations can assist in this process, such as the Rutland Natural Resource Conservation District that supports seasonal water quality monitoring to the USDA - Natural Resource Conservation Service, which supports famers and landowners with land conservation incentives programs.

Watershed planning is a method for maintaining, protecting, and restoring the natural resources within a watershed while also enhancing the quality of life in our communities. Watershed plans should be used to integrate multiple water resource protection and conservation activities and goals.


During the last year, the Vermont Water Quality Division has developed a more effective planning process to manage surface waters across the state.  This new strategy aims to pull together the monitoring and assessment data, and the protection and restoration tools of rivers, lakes, wetlands and stormwater for each of Vermont's 17 major watersheds.  What makes this new watershed planning process different from previous basin planning efforts is the scale.


While prior basin plans focused on broad-scale strategies to promote surface water protection or improvement, the new tactical plans will highlight the projects or actions needed to protect or restore specific waters and identify appropriate funding sources to complete the work. Read more.



A posted sign in a Central Vermont field

The Case for Hunter Access


By Patrick Berry, Commissioner, Vermont Fish & Wildlife


Well into autumn, a season that is synonymous with hunting for countless Vermonters, it is important to reflect on the value of hunting for both cultural and ecological reasons-and how we can keep this tradition strong.

Hunting is a quintessential part of Vermont's heritage. Vermont boasts the highest participation rate in the lower 48 states for hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife watching. Hunting is not only one of the most socially, ethically, and environmentally responsible ways to put meat on the dinner table, it also provides an important opportunity to bring families together and get kids outdoors to learn an appreciation for nature.

Ecologically, hunters help wildlife biologists manage game populations in balance with available habitat. Without hunters, locally over-abundant deer and moose can excessively browse available food resources, leading to both poor forest health and poor animal health.

While some aging hunters forgo the sport because they believe they have grown too old for the chase, the second leading cause for the decline in hunting is the ever-increasing loss of access to places where we enjoy our pursuits. This growing problem extends well beyond hunter participation and ecological health: hunters have provided the vast majority of funding for all wildlife conservation for over 75 years through license sales and purchases of hunting related items. Without their financial support, we simply cannot fulfill our mission.

Although the Vermont Constitution states that all public and private land is open to hunting unless otherwise posted, many newcomers to the state-and even long-time residents-are surprised that our constitution protects this activity. Those who post their property often don't realize the vital connection they are sundering in an effort to simply control access to their property.

So what can be done to increase access and preserve hunting?

First, we need to recognize as a state one of the key components to maintaining our hunting traditions and protecting forest resources is to stem the rising tide of posted and inaccessible land.

Second, we need to put words into action. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is taking the lead by launching a Hunter Opportunity and Open Lands Campaign. This campaign is designed to improve the relationship between hunters and landowners, to educate Vermonters on the value of keeping land accessible, and to encourage hunters to demonstrate appropriate respect for private landowners. Here are a few components of the campaign:

* The Department successfully supported policy changes this past legislative session that gives private landowners more flexibility to legally control access to their property by posting "by permission" signs. Previously, landowners would have to post their property against trespass to everyone to control access.
* We are sending information to town clerks and asking them to help inform landowners of hunting's strong safety record and its importance in conservation, as a food resource, and in our culture.
* The department has created modern mapping tools for Wildlife Management Areas and other lands conserved by the department on our website, and have included links to all other publicly accessible land across Vermont. Don't know where to go hunting? You will now:

* In an effort to curtail frustration that many landowners have expressed about the prevalence of road hunting, the distance people can legally shoot from the road has been increased from 10 to 25 feet.
* The department provides resources on our website to help hunters build stronger relationships with landowners.

More resources for landowners and hunters will become available in the coming months. As the fall hunting seasons continue, we ask hunters to show their gratitude towards landowners by being respectful of private property, and we ask landowners to consider the important benefit of keeping land accessible for our hunting community. By strengthening the historic relationship between landowners and hunters, we can help uphold property rights, improve open access to land, and ensure the survival of this important Vermont tradition.

Celebrate the Holidays with the ANR! 

The holiday season is upon us! We have lots of holiday gift options for the outdoor-lover on your shopping list.


Vermont State Parks have put together a full page of gift packages and park merchandise, just in time for the giving season. With lots of options to choose from, there is bound to be something for everyone. Check out the full list of state park gifts and gear here.


Fish and Wildlife's 2014 wildlife calendars are also now available. Featuring hunting, fishing and trapping dates along with stunning wildlife photography, the calendar is available for $12. Click here for more information or to purchase a 2014 Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department Calendar.  


Hunting Staff Picks

Photo Credit: Christopher Saunders


By: Alyson Atondo, Intern, Agency of Natural Resources


Hunting is a traditional activity that is important to many Vermonters. Our state may be small but it boasts big numbers. A study taken by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife revealed that last year 62% of Vermonters participated in hunting, fishing, or a combination of the two. Vermonters ranked second in the country, with only Alaska scoring higher.


Hunting functions not only as a recreational activity; it also serves a strong economic and environmental duty. Economically, hunting provides a whopping $280 million to Vermont's economy. Environmentally speaking, hunting serves as a vital population control purpose. In addition to the concrete economic and environmental benefits, hunting can foster strong family connections, and has become a celebrated tradition for many Vermonters. 


As Vermonters are gearing up for a variety of hunting seasons, the Agency would like to take the time to highlight some favorite staff hunting spots, favorite hunting game, and why the sport of hunting is particularly important to them.



Chris Saunders is a member of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department where he works in Outreach. He is an avid hunter but prefers fowl.


Saunders describes below, in his own words, why hunting is just as important to him as the landscape is around him.


"There are far more productive places to hunt than the square mile or so of spruce-fir, old beaver ponds and mixed hardwood behind my house. Hell, there are a more deer, more ducks, more geese and more grouse in just about any other of Calais's thirty-eight square of miles. However, hunting for me is as much about place as it is about bagging game or even seeing wildlife. It's about belonging to the landscape and knowing my outside home and its inhabitants as well as I do the inside of our blue saltbox with beige trim. The catch is that we only own a handful of acres. My hunting is almost entirely dependent on the generosity of my neighbors. So in no small way, hunting forces me closer to my human community too."

Tom Jones is part of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department where he serves as a fish health biologist. Jones enjoys hunting both cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare with his four-legged friend companion, a beagle.


"My passion for the outdoors stems awhile back through my father. He always ensured a huge amount of time taking my brothers and me fishing and hunting in southwestern Pennsylvania. Back then, one of our favorite quarry was the cottontail rabbit. Numerous, cunning and tasty, they provided us countless days afield and we pursued them with a beagle named "Pokey". He was an exceptional hound and a great companion. He's long gone now but my passion is still very strong for beagles and pursuing snowshoe hare in Vermont. This critter lives in beautiful places and I very much enjoy leashing-up a hound, strapping on a pair of snowshoes and heading to the snowy spruce/fir thickets of central and northern Vermont."


Rebecca Phelps 

is the Conservation Education Coordinator for the Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation. She is also a deer hunter.  

When asked about important hunting tips, Phelps responded that there are many aspects to consider.


"I use a young buck call once an hour, every hour. This draws attention to other bucks in the area." It also allows for Phelps to get a better shot at deer passersby, as the call signals to the young bucks that there is competition in the nearby area.


"When I caught the buck (pictured above), it was rutting season. He (the buck) probably thought there was competition in the area and wandered over to come challenge another buck."


Another tip from Phelps: pay attention to your surroundings.  


Surveying the land around oneself is also an important aspect to take into consideration while hunting. Although it may come across as basic, novice understanding, Phelps emphasizes that hunters should not establish themselves in an area that is heavily forested. "You need a spot with good visibility," Phelps said. One spot that Phelps used successfully was on top of a large rock outcropping that was sheltered by brush and trees. This enabled her to have a good lookout point but still be camouflaged.


Deer learn trails from their mothers as young fawns. Consequently, they follow certain trails with frequency and rarely stray from their established routes.


"Also look for an area where deer have been present. Some things that I look for before I pick a spot are deer tracks and fresh scat. Those tell me that deer are not only in the area, but they will most likely come back."    


Tom Rogers

 recently hosted Seven Days' Eva Sollberger, as she examined the culture and history of hunting in Vermont. Watch here to see Tom and Eva's adventure: 


Deer Hunting Opening Weekend [SIV330]
Deer Hunting Opening Weekend



Have questions? More information regarding where one can hunt, hunting season timeframes, events, procedures, and precautions can be found on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website here.

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Contact Us:

Deb Markowitz, Secretary

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources