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Showing posts from September, 2013

Fall in the Parks: A Peaceful Time

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Just because fall is inching closer every day doesn't mean you have to prepare to hibernate just yet. Half of Vermont State Parks are fully operational and spending a fall day or night at a state park has unique advantages. The parks are quieter after those meddling kids have gone back to school, allowing you the chance to relax in the peace of your campsite or on the trail.  Less people in the parks means a greater choice of sites and the cooler nights make relaxing by a campfire a real joy, especially without the threat of pesky bugs.

The cool weather is also ideal for hiking and biking. Check out Vermont State Parks' picks for the best parks to bike in. The parks also have a variety of wonderful hiking opportunities, for hikers of all abilities. Gaze up at the stars on a crisp night or take a walk through the spectacular fall foliage. Also note that fall is a great time to spot birds in their fall migration -- Mt. Philo in Charlotte is a superb place to observe the hawk migr…

The Zen of Raking

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By Shannon Blake, Assistant Ranger
The Elmore State Park beach and I have shared moments of infinite possibility. If you are one of the beach-goers that make it out before noon, you may have witnessed the perfect ridges in the sand extending in parallel lines from the lake's edge up to the wood retaining wall.    The amusing breaks in linearity around obstacles like the boat rack and the cement block that anchors the pedal boats give away the secret that these are not naturally occurring lines. They are the work of a John Deere tractor pulling a homemade sand rake. 
When I am the park employee fortunate enough to pull the rake in the early morning before opening, I feel like an artist sculpting a Zen garden.  The act is a reset button for all the fun, mischief, and excavations that took place on the beach the day before. And in that space of time when the rake lines are complete and before park visitors come in, the beach and I share a moment of infinite possibility.

Maybe it will r…

Things are Looking Up: Hawk Watching in Vermont State Parks

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The fall bird migration has begun, giving us a great opportunity to see some cool birds that we might not see every day.
My favorites are the raptors, or hawks. The big bad boys of the bird world.  Mount Philo State Park is home to hawk watching enthusiasts that perch on the summit with binoculars and spotting scopes and keep tally of the number and species of raptors passing by.
Early fall, mid September through the first part of October, is the perfect time to watch for migrating hawks.
For example, here is what was seen at Mt. Philo State Park yesterday, September 16th:  9  Osprey12 Bald Eagle3 Northern Harrier8 Sharp-shinned Hawk2  Cooper's Hawk706 Broad-winged Hawk5  Red-tailed Hawk8 American Kestrel1 Peregrine Falcon4 Unidentified raptor2 Common Nighthawk
Jane Stein, on the VTBIRDlist provides these hawk watching tips:
The best chance to catch sight of the raptor migration if you don't have access to a mountain would be late afternoon when the thermals weaken and they drop muc…

Our Maintenance Techs: The Unsung Heroes of Vermont State Parks

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by Eric Bouchard, Ranger, Brighton State Park

When you’re a new Ranger at a new park and trying to understand, update, clean, organize and revamp its structures and grounds, who do you turn to?
When it’s a cold, rainy and snowy holiday weekend and all three sets of restrooms have shower malfunctions, who do you call?
When there are more issues than campers in your park, who is always there?
When you have one cockamamie idea after another, and want to make those ideas a reality, who is always there to lend a helping hand?
When you need a tool or part that can’t be obtained locally, who can you ask?
If you haven’t guessed already, I am speaking of our regional Maintenance Technicians. They are there for all of us, the staff and guests alike. They work tirelessly to ensure that everything runs smoothly and will go out of their way to help when they can and if they know that you truly care about the park.

Although they are mostly behind the scenes, they are the backbone of your team. This is…

Picnic in the Parks: Seyon Lodge

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By guest bloggers Erin & Evan


There is no better way to spend a holiday weekend than to visit one of Vermont’s state parks…and picnic! This past Labor Day weekend we visited Seyon Lodge State Park in the heart of the Groton State Forest. Before arriving at the park we stopped by the Marshfield Village Store for our picnic supplies.
This Village Store is about 19 miles or 30 minutes north of the park.  To get from the store to the park you can take VT Route 232 right through the Groton State Forest past three other great state parks:  New Discovery; Kettle Pond; and Ricker Pond.  These parks also offer hiking, swimming, boating, and picnicking. 
While at the Village Store we found several picnic items including Vermont Common Crackers, Cabot Cheddar Cheese, an apple, two “real sticks” from Vermont Smoke and Cure, and a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie from Red Door Bakery in Marshfield (delicious). We were able to enjoy our picnic in a pair of Adirondack chairs right on the shore …

The Battle of Branbury vs. Bomoseen

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by Lesley Porter, Ranger, Branbury State Park

Bomoseen and Branbury State Parks have a bit of a friendly rivalry going these days. The biggest reason for it (other than differences in opinion over which is the better park) is the number of connections the two parks share with staff.

See if you can follow along. Bomoseen’s Ranger used to be the Assistant Ranger at Branbury. Branbury has an Assistant who spent a year as Bomoseen’s Assistant.  Branbury’s Ranger works alongside one of Bomoseen’s attendants in the winter at a ski resort. There is even a pair of siblings split between the two parks.

So last year, Bomoseen challenged Branbury to a volleyball tournament but the two parks were never able to work out a time for the event. This year, the friendly trash-talk started immediately, and we knew we’d have to settle this soon.

On a rainy Monday after work, several staff from Bomoseen traveled to Branbury for a best of 5 volleyball tournament. Branbury’s desire to win was palpable.  They we…