Vermont State Parks e-Newsletter                              June 2015
Greetings Everyone,

As you can see from this edition of our e-newsletter, there's a lot happening here at Vermont State Parks right now! Our prime season is in full swing and we have lots of ways to make your visits more fun and valuable. From finding information about trails, to borrowing fishing gear, to asking your doctor for a "prescription" to get outdoors...our creative and talented staff and partners never stop coming up with cool ideas to encourage people to spend more time outdoors! So hurry and finish reading this newsletter and get outside!
See you out there...

Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks 
Craig Whipple with the First Park Prescription!
A Day in the Life of a Park Ranger: 
Turtle Surprise!
by Park Ranger Lisa Liotta

As a park ranger, I see some unusual things. Take last Friday, for was a beautiful, warm, sunny day at Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester. The sun was low in the afternoon sky and the sand on our south-facing Lake Sand Beach radiated warmth after baking all day under the sun's rays. I didn't see her right away, but as I neared the prime spot on the beach, there she was...a lone park visitor, basking in the warm sun, with her toes buried in the sand. As I approached, I realized...she was laying eggs!

This wasn't just any park visitor, it was a Northern Map Turtle. Map Turtles aren't endangered in our state, but they are a species of special concern, which means they are one that we want to watch. 

Within 90 minutes of my encounter with this park visitor, she had completed her labor and was long gone. After laying eggs and covering the nest using her hind feet, a turtle mom's responsibilities are complete. Now, it was up to nature to take its course. Left undisturbed, the eggs would hatch in about 70 days, depending on the weather. The problem was, this female turtle chose the busiest spot on the beach; dead-center and right next to a picnic table.

Although turtle nests can be quite inconspicuous, especially in sand after it's been gently washed with rain, this one was poorly placed for survival. Quickly, Park Attendant Megan Kane and I constructed and placed a small cage and sign to protect the nest from disturbance.

Turtles choose their nest sites carefully, relying on 200 million years of finely honed instincts. Nests should only be moved in extreme circumstances by experienced and trained people. Fortunately, I was able to reach one of those people after 5pm on a Friday. Steve Parren is the Coordinator for the Wildlife Diversity Program of Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Department. After describing the nest location and the species of the turtle, Steve agreed that the nest's best chance of survival was to relocate it from the busiest part of the beach to another section that was not frequented by people.

The following Wednesday, Steve came to the park to help. After removing the wire cage, he very carefully removed the sand a little at a time using a paintbrush so as not to break the eggs, uncovering sixteen eggs in total. 

Park Attendant Megan Kane Transferring an Egg
During early development, rotating the shell may impact the turtle's growth, so the eggs must be handled very carefully and placed in the new nest location with the same side facing up as they were in the original nest. Steve delicately laid the eggs on a bed of sand in a bucket, then carried them to a new location a little farther up the beach. The new location was the same environment as the original nest, but a less active area of the beach where human park visitors don't often venture. After placing the eggs with care in the new nest, we carefully covered the nest with sand, and wished the baby turtles well. 
"Reel Fun" Fishing Program Makes a Splash
by Chris Adams, Vermont Fish and Wildlife

Vermont State Parks and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department are teaming up this season with an exciting new program that will encourage park visitors to take advantage of the diverse, easily accessible, and family-friendly fishing opportunities that exist in most Vermont State Parks.

"We're thrilled to partner with Vermont Fish & Wildlife to help make fishing more accessible to anglers at Vermont State Parks," said Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks. "There's a strong history of recreational angling at our state parks and we want to continue to bolster that tradition through the 'Reel Fun' program. Whether you want to fish from shore or take out one of our canoes, kayaks, or paddle boats, we hope that you will make fishing at a state park a must-do activity this summer."


Fishing at Button Bay State Park
by Karl Hubbard


In addition to hosting "Let's Go Fishing" clinics with trained instructors, ten state parks will now be providing fishing equipment to visitors on a loaner basis.  Included in the equipment will be rods, reels, fishing line and an assortment of lures or baits that can be signed out by park visitors in order to help provide instant access to the sport of fishing. A guide will also be available that includes information about the waterbody, a lake or river map, a list of fish species present, fishing tips, and techniques applicable to each waterway, as well as information about obtaining a Vermont fishing license.

  The following state parks will be participating in the "Reel Fun" initiative in 2015: Grand Isle State Park on Lake Champlain, Lake Carmi State Park, Stillwater State Park on Groton Lake, Branbury State Park on Lake Dunmore, Silver Lake State Park, Wilgus State Park on the Connecticut River, Half Moon State Park on Half Moon Pond, Lake St. Catherine State Park, Woodford State Park on Adams Reservoir, and Brighton State Park on Spectacle Pond.


"From my personal experience camping and fishing with my family, I can attest that Vermont's state parks and fishing are a natural combination," said Eric Palmer, director of fisheries with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. "The 'Reel Fun' program will help to make fishing in our state parks an easy option to anyone who might want to try it out." 


The program will include a "Reel Fun VT" photo contest where visitors can submit photos of themselves fishing at state parks to either Vermont State Parks or Vermont Fish & Wildlife.  At the end of the summer, three winners will be chosen. The first place winner will receive two starter fishing kits as well as a weekend of free camping in a Vermont State Park.  The second place winner will receive one starter fishing kit and a 2016 season vehicle pass for Vermont State Parks. The third place winner will also receive a starter fishing kit and a punch card good for 10 visits to any Vermont State Park!


Visitors can submit "Reel Fun VT" photos via email to or, or can use #ReelFunVT to tag photos on Twitter. 



Trail Finder Website is Now Available!

We all have those afternoons and weekends where we want to go out and get into the woods, but we don't feel like hiking our usual spots and aren't sure where to head. Lucky for you, we've teamed up with the Upper Valley Trails Alliance (UVTA) and the Vermont Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Community to help you solve that problem! We are very proud to announce our new Trail Finder website, and can't wait to see what you think. 

How will it help? Trail Finder ( is basically a search engine for trails in our region that combines interactive maps and details that enable you to search not only by town, but also by hiking difficulty, trail activity (biking, snowshoeing, etc.) or keyword. It presents you with a list sorted by relevance to your search, and you can see all the trails' stats easily as you scroll: activities offered, location, difficulty, and length. Just click "View Trail" to check out a detailed description, map, weather forecast, and directions to the trailhead. 

It's not just for us though...we are actively seeking photographs, comments, and trail suggestions from our users! You will need to create a free account in order to make comments, and if you are interested in becoming a trail manager or would like to see a trail appear on the site, please contact our Recreation Coordinator Jessica Savage at

Some of the features we are especially excited about include: 

Geolocation: Access our mobile site on your smart phone and see yourself on the map! You can also download trails and maps into your GPS unit or view them on Google Earth. 

See Nearby Trails: We're making it easy to expand your experience or plan a bigger trip; associated trails will be linked to your trail selections so you'll have more options at your fingertips.

More Photos: We're trying to get slideshows up of all the trails so that you'll know what to expect, so don't forget to send us your own trail photos if you notice a trail has no photographs yet.

Improved Communication: Encounter a fallen tree that blocks a trail? Have suggestions about your trail experience? Contact information is available for each trail, which enables hikers to get in touch with trail managers even faster. 

Enhanced Search Capabilities: Looking for trails that allow motorized vehicles? Pet friendly hikes? Wheelchair accessibility? We've got you covered with the "Find Trails" search options.

Having fun in the great outdoors just got a whole lot spend a few minutes searching, find your perfect trail, and we'll see you out there. Happy Trail Finding!

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Random Acts of Camping are Back for 2015!

Designed to encourage day-users to give camping a try, the "Random Acts of Camping" program will reward lucky park visitors with two free nights of tent, RV, lean-to, or cabin camping in any Vermont State Park campground. One winner will be chosen at random on nice weather weekends, beginning in Elmore State Park on June 27. 

Winners not only receive free camping, but will also get personal trip planning assistance from the Parks Sales and Service Manager, Rochelle Skinner. 
"Camping with your family and friends creates memories that can last a lifetime. Our hope is that this promotional program encourages a few more people to realize those great benefits," says Rochelle Skinner. 

The park where we'll be awarding our Random Acts of Camping will be announced on the Vermont State Parks website, Facebook, and Twitter feeds, so look out! It could just be your lucky day.
Parks Prescription Program is Up and Running

In case you haven't heard, Vermonters can now receive a "prescription" for a day of free entry into any Vermont State Park. Physicians around the state are teaming up with the Vermont State Parks, the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the Department of Health in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent chronic health issues...truly a win-win! 
"We all know that one of the best ways to stay healthy is to stay active," Gov. Shumlin said. "Luckily we live in Vermont and are surrounded by natural resources that make staying active easy and fun. So listen to your doctor and get outside this summer!"

The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to help prevent heart disease and stroke. For kids, outdoor activity is especially important: spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, which helps protect kids from future bone problems, heart disease, and diabetes. 

"The Park Prescription program is a perfect way to highlight the connection between outdoor recreation and personal health," said Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks. "Spending time outdoors, connecting with nature, and being active all help keep us strong in both body and spirit. And state parks offer the ideal settings for valuable outdoor time!" 

Vermont consistently ranks among the nation's healthiest states, and we're so excited to help keep Vermonters going strong. We can't wait to see out out there! See our blog for a list of physicians who are participating
Get Your Park Passes Now!

There's still time to snag some great deals on all of our parks passes before the fee increase occurs in July: vehicle passes, individual passes, punch cards, and more are all available for purchase online or at a Vermont State Park near you

Barnes Camp: Project of the Year

Congratulations to everyone involved in the Barnes Camp Restoration in Smugglers' Notch! The Camp underwent a full renovation in 2014 to transform the building into an information center for visitors interested in recreation and the natural history of Smugglers' Notch.

The Vermont Planners Association has awarded the Barnes Camp Restoration the 2015 Project of the Year Award, since it will enhance public enjoyment of the Notch while introducing and educating visitors about the area's numerous resources.

Park Events: We've Got Something for Everyone!

The parks have an amazing mix of events planned for the summer, so no matter how particular your kids or your spouse might be, we have lots of adventures everyone can enjoy. 
Fun in the Nature Center at Button Bay State Park
by Julia Parent

Below is just a brief list of what's coming up...visit our Events Page for the full list!

Thursday June 25th

Bomoseen Nature Program
Bomoseen Nature Program

Friday, June 26th

10:30am: Be Nice to Spiders program at Stillwater State Park
1:30pm: Make Your Own Greeting Cards at Groton Nature Center
8pm: S'mores and (Friendly) Ghost Stories at DAR State Park

Nature Program at Quechee State Park
by Nicole Olmstead

Saturday, June 27th

Sunday, June 28th

Saturday, July 4th
Vermont Parks Forever

Vermont Parks Forever - the new foundation for Vermont State Parks!
Keep an eye out for this dedicated group of park enthusiasts working to leverage private resources to make Vermont's state parks even more wonderful. Vermont Parks Forever works in close partnership with VSP staff to expand access to parks, increase educational opportunities, and welcome the next generation of park visitors. Stay informed and help spread the word about Vermont Parks Forever! Check out their Facebook page, twitter, and sign up for their quarterly e-newsletter at 

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Vermont State Parks 
 888-409-7579 | 
1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620