March 2013

Vermont State Parks Newsletter

Greetings Everyone!


March in Vermont is a seasonal crossroads. We certainly have some winter left but there are definitely signs of spring. The sun keeps getting higher in the sky and the sugarmakers are getting started...and some of the roads are getting a little sloppy! But it's always a good time to get outside! Going outdoors and exploring our natural parks director world always makes us stronger and healthier in "mind, body and soul". In fact, there is lots of science conducted over the years that clearly shows the connection between exposure to nature and our physical and emotional health. In recent years, this has been particularly brought to light by Richard Louv in  his book "Last Child in the Woods" in which he coins the phrase "nature deficit disorder" to characterize the negative effects that the increasingly indoor, sedentary lifestyle is having on our youth. Last month we were visited by the well known international travel writer, Richard Bangs doing a piece on Vermont and he 

became totally enamored by our state and the subject of the personal value of getting outdoors and connecting with the natural world. He went so far as to coin a new phrase "Vermont deficit disorder" to illustrate the role that a place like Vermont can play in turning this trend around! Click the image on the right to view the video

Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks 
Park Improvements
carmi bog walk

Staff have been busy making improvements in the parks. Here is a list of just some of the things we have been busy doing the last several months:


Park Improvements that have happened in the Northeast Region are: 

Ricker Pond State Park: In the existing cottage, the bathroom, windows, and flooring were upgraded.  

Ricker Pond State Park:  There is now a new cottage at the park! The new Perry Merrill cottage is ready to rent for the 2013 season

Little River State Park: Two new cabins have been added, called Fisher and Marten. Now there are four cabins at Little River.

Maidstone State Park: Beaches have been reworked and now are supreme swimming spots.  

Seyon Lodge State Park: Interior spaces have been painted including the conference room, bedrooms and bathrooms. The Lodge insulation has been upgraded to increase energy efficiency.


Improvements in the Southeast Region:  

Mt. Ascutney State Park: Bathrooms and showers renovated and updated.

Camp Plymouth State Park: All five cottages renovated 

Coolidge State Park:  Whetstone remote lean-to relocated and open


Improvements in the Southwest Region

Lake Shaftsbury State Park: Rental cottage has been stripped of wallpaper and painted, and  one or two of the antiques have been refinished.  

Branbury State Park: Concession stand has been updated with new service windows. 

Button Bay State ParkMajor bathroom renovations were completed.


Grand Isle Cabin Construction 2010 May Improvements in the Northwest RegionBurton Island State Park: The old Dimon Camp has been removed, which was a significant eye sore as you approached the island on the east. The area has been graded and returned to a natural shoreline environment for visitors to relax and recreate on. The new contact station will improve the experience for the guests at Burton by providing two customer service windows and a universally accessible bathroom, while the aesthetic of the building blends more naturally with the island environment. 

Outdoor Observer: 
Winter Friends

By Rebecca Phelps, Conservation Education Coordinator


Crystal clear cold winter days are best for adventures in Vermont State Parks.  I plopped my 14 month old daughter in our backpack carrier and headed out on the trail at Gifford Woods State Park recently.  We were greeted by the dark blue winter sky, pure white snow underfoot, and the greeters of winter forests in New England, a flock of black-capped chickadees. 


Chickadees are friendly and curious birds.  Because they check out everything in their home range, they are often the first birds that find new feeders.  They seem very friendly because their curiosity extends to investigating human beings.  Watching them has brightened many dull winter days.


When you think about bird watchers, your mind may conjure up the image of someone with binoculars around their neck, a notebook in one hand, a spotting scope in the other, and a well-worn Sibley Guide to Birds poking out of their back pocket.  You may imagine an eccentric person who wakes up far too early to travel hundreds of miles to spot a new bird. If you take time to closely watch birds in their habitat, you will understand the enthusiasm for watching these avian animals.


Hiking through Gifford Woods that day, my daughter and I heard the distinctive calls of a flock of chickadees.  We heard their call that sounds like "fee-bee" with the second note lower than the first.  You can also commonly hear their distinctive "chickadee-dee-dee" call. 


We heard those calls and decided to become bird watchers.  This is what you need to do to take a close look at birds in their habitat.  I looked for a low tree to stand under-we found a small spruce that provided some shelter.  I began to make a "pssh....pssh...pssh..." noise with my mouth over and over, very quickly chickadees started flying in closer and closer. 


Chickadees are our companions on winter days.  They do not mind the cold, they stick around rather than migrate like some other birds.  I love watching them fly closer and closer, calling back at me.  The flock at Gifford Woods landed around us on the small spruce branches, calling back to me and to each other.  There is nothing more thrilling for a young child than seeing wild animals close up.  Actually, there is nothing more thrilling for an adult either! 


Head out into the Vermont woods and look for these winter friends yourself.  You will see chickadees in any habitat with woody shrubs and trees.  Watch for them at your bird feeders or call them in close and get a really close up look at them.  When you stop to watch them you will discover that they are mesmerizing to watch and delightful to listen to. 



By: Ralph Waldo Emerson


Then piped a tiny voice hard by

Gay and polite, a cheerful cry

"Chicka-dee-dee!"  saucy note

Out of a sound heart and merry throat

As if it said, "Good day, good sir!

Fine afternoon, old passenger!

Happy to meet you in these places

Where January brings few faces.

fpr logo
This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks. It's muddy out there, so wipe your boots off before coming into the house. We'll save you some maple for you.

Learn S'more About Camping


cooking at camp

Coming this summer, from the experts at Eastern Mountain Sports and Vermont State Parks...Love the Vermont State Parks and day trips but not quite sure about camping? Come to one of the EMS and VT State Parks Clinics to Learn S'More About Camping!



- Saturday, June 22: Emerald Lake 

- Saturday, June 29: Lake St. Catherine 

- Saturday, July 13: Mt. Ascutney 

- Saturday, July 27: Mt. Philo 

- Saturday, August 3: Quechee




-Camping Gear Clinic 101

-How to set up a campsite, from simple to swanky

-Camping activities for kids

-Camp cooking 101: Camp fire and camp stove

-Ask the experts, campfire and marshmallow roast

-No pre-registration required

-Free park entry for participants

Venture Vermont 2010 Final

You'll also receive gear checklists, advice and coupons to take home. We're sure once you try camping in a VT State Park you will be hooked for life!

Two Night Reservations:

quechee park office

Love to camp but only have two nights to spare? Have no fear! You now can make two night reservations for any park! 

Go online or call: 888-409-7579 to plan your getaway today!

Interning with Vermont State Parks is a great way to gain on-the-job experience and give back to the community. We always have interesting projects that we're working on and we'd love your help.


We are looking for photography interns to go out into the parks and capture a variety of people, places, visitor experiences, and the facilities of Vermont State Parks.  


If you have an idea for your own internship let us know and send along your resume, letter of interest and samples of your work to:

Calling all Performers:
Interested in sharing your talent with others?  We are looking for fun and new park performers E-mail
Hello Fellow Birders
Spring is just around the corner and Vermont's E-Bird program now has hotspots in all of Vermont, including all of Vermont State Parks. E-bird is a real-time, online checklist where birders can enter their sightings right from the field, or potential visitors, like park visitors, can view the species sighted in any park. The data is aggregated by Cornell University and is used to track population trends in US birds.

Vermont E-Bird is also a great way to discover new spots to look for birds. So check it out and learn more about this exciting citizen science program. 

Happy Birding! 

Android & iPhone App Available! 

In This Issue:

Vermont Deficit Disorder
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