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Showing posts from December, 2017

Celebrate the Winter Solstice!

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--Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator 
Thursday December 21 is the shortest day of 2017, the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. There is optimism in knowing we will are gaining more sunlight in our days after this darkest day. This is reason to celebrate even if you are not a big fan of wintertime.
The seasons we experience are caused by the tilt of the Earth and not by the proximity of the Earth to the sun. We are closer to the sun during our winter months, but the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun during winter and that is why our days are shorter and our temperatures are lower.
The tilt of the Earth was caused by the planet colliding with huge space junk billions of years ago when it was forming. The tilt causes us to get less direct sunlight from September to March, and more sunlight than the Southern Hemisphere from April to August. On our Winter Solstice, our neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere are celebrating their Summer Solstice and their lon…

Moose Cam!

Check out this great video captured by Game Warden trainee Kyle Isherwood found on his day off exploring the woods in Warren, Vermont.  A moose being a moose. Thanks to Vermont Game Wardens Association for sharing this post!


Evergreens in Winter

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By Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator 
We received a foot of beautiful snow this week, reminding us why we love winter in Vermont.  The snow coated the rolling hills and valleys, clinging to evergreen branches with festive white icing. This made these special trees stand out.
I saw some beautiful evergreen trees at Allis State Park when I dug out my cross-country skis and glided my way up to the stone picnic shelter for some hot chocolate and cookies. Like other woods in central Vermont, Allis has deciduous and evergreen trees growing together. All our deciduous trees—maples, ash, beech, and oak among other broad leaf trees, turned brilliant colors and dropped their leaves in October. Meanwhile our hardy evergreen trees continue to be green all year long.
The evergreens growing in Vermont are also called conifers, because they grow seeds in cones. People also call them softwood trees because their wood is, well, soft. They have lots of names because they are special trees…

Join Us For A Free First Day Hike On January 1st!

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UPDATE: Several hikes have been cancelled as of Friday, December 29th (Bomoseen, Underhill, Camp Plymouth, Groton Nature Center, Seyon Lodge bike only, and Owl's Head). See details below. FOR MOST RECENT INFO, please call the First Day Hike Hotline on December 31st for the latest status on all hikes: (802) 249-1230.

Start the new year on the right foot with a hike in a Vermont state park. On January 1, 2018, everyone is invited to join a free, guided, family-friendly hike taking place at many state parks and forests across Vermont. Hikes will be led by professional guides and outdoor educators eager to share their knowledge and love of Vermont’s outdoors. Don’t need a guide? No matter where you live in Vermont, a state park or state forest is always close by, and you can still get outside to enjoy it. State park entry is free on New Year’s Day (and all winter long). You’ll discover a whole new world in winter.
This year, a First Day BIKE option is available at Seyon Lodge State Park…

Hedgehog Bladders Take Over The Hedge

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By Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator
I love receiving nature related questions from friends and family. There was that one time my mechanical engineer sister wrote to me in panic about dying pine trees along the interstate (it was fall and they were tamaracks turning yellow), and recently I got a “what the heck is this?” message from my geologist brother. He sent me a photo of wild cucumber vines growing on his woodpile.

These leafy vines and spiky fruit are an interesting spectacle. Wild cucumbers catch your eye in edges and disturbed places, growing up and over trees and shrubs, grabbing on with their curling tendrils. Although they have very fragrant and numerous whitish yellow flowers in June—it is the spiky pods that catch attention.
Wild cucumber seed pods look like very spiky cucumbers. The scientific name for wild cucumber, Echinocystis lobata means hedgehog bladder, which accurately describes this spiky fruit. Cousins to our domestic and delicious cucumber, wild…

Best of Venture Vermont, 2017

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Every summer, individuals and families participate in the annual Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge. Rather like a state-wide outdoor scavenger hunt, participants complete a variety of outdoor activities to earn points. Once a participant reaches 250 points, the prize is a coin that offers free admission to any day-use state park, for all of the current year and all of next.

This year, more than 175 people participated from locations all across Vermont… and from a few other states too. One great thing about Venture Vermont is that participants are able to pick their own activities & go at their own pace. There is always something new to learn! Activities for 2017 included taking a bird walk, trail-running, tying knots, and going on a day-long adventure. Some challenges are park-based, but most can be completed anywhere, on vacation or in your backyard.
Thanks to everyone who participated. We hope to see you all again in 2018, for a new year of Venture Vermont with brand new challen…

Turkey Tails In The Woods Near You

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By Rebecca Roy, Vermont State Parks  Conservation Education Coordinator 
Fall and winter are wonderful times to look for the world’s most numerous woods growing mushroom, turkey tail fungus. These beautiful mushrooms are versatile and abundant in human cultural history, and in our autumn woods. You can spot turkey tail mushrooms growing on rotting trees just about everywhere trees grow, including these excellent specimens I found recently in Gifford WoodsState Park.
I love it when the names of things in nature describe their appearance. Turkey tail fungus falls in that category because the variety of earthen colors in concentric circles on the mushrooms looks like the colors on turkey tail feathers. The mushrooms, or fruiting body of the fungus looks like a whole bunch of tiny turkey tails growing together in layers on dead and decaying wood. I found these on a standing dead tree, but they are found most often on logs and stumps. Look down while you walk in the woods this time of year a…