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Spring steelhead run up Willoughby Falls guided walk April 27

in Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — Fisheries biologist Pete Emerson will be available for a guided walk at the Willoughby Falls on April 27.

The goal of the walk will be to observe the steelhead spawning migration and to answer questions from the public about the fish, the river, and the state-owned lands that border the river much of the way to Lake Memphremagog.

The walk will take place at 10:00 a.m. at the Willoughby Falls Wildlife Management Area, in Orleans.

Steelhead are a strain of rainbow trout that migrate from their natal rivers as juvenile fish when they are around six inches long.

They leave the relative safety of the river, moving downstream towards the ocean where abundant food helps them grow considerably larger than their stream-dwelling cousins.

The Orleans steelhead are content to stop their migration at Lake Memphremagog where they feed for a year before returning as adults to spawn.

Steelhead can return to spawn many years, drawing anglers who prize their strength and size. They can get as large as 24 inches and up to 6 or 7 pounds.

There is no need to sign up for this guided walk, just show up.

Public hearing on deer, moose taking place April 2 in Orleans

in News/Orleans/Outdoors

ORLEANS — Hunters, landowners and anyone else interested in deer and moose should plan on attending a Vermont Fish & Wildlife public hearing being held this spring in Orleans.

The hearing will take place on Tuesday, April 2, at Lake Region Union High School, located at 317 Lake Region Road.

The hearing will include results of Vermont’s 2018 deer hunting seasons and prospects for deer hunting next fall as well as an opportunity for people to comment.

The presentation will also include 2018 moose hunting results and the Fish & Wildlife Department’s proposal to not hold a moose hunt this year because of needed regulatory changes.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Winter Swim Festival this weekend in Newport

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — This weekend, 85 winter swimmers supported by 35 volunteers, will be competing in a two-lane, 25-meter pool cut in the ice on Lake Memphremagog.

Swimmers are traveling from all over the United States for the event, as well as internationally from South Africa, Scotland, Spain, and Quebec.

They will be swimming 25-meter, 50-meter, 100-meter, and 200-meter events, starting with a fiercely competitive 25-meter “Hat Competition,” starting at 9:30 a.m.

Newport offers the only 25-meter, two-lane winter swim pool cut in the ice, in all of North America.

The pool is cut by Michael Booth and Josh McCoy.

Four youth will be competing, including Margaret Rivard, of Springfield, NH, age 11, her older sister Vera Rivard, age 15, Esme Kimber, age 12, of East Corinth, and Denis Graham, age 17, of Verona, WI.

On the other end of the spectrum are two septuagenarians, Ginny Peck, 73, of North Campton, NH, and Kathleen McDonnell, 71, of Toronto, ON.

There are 10 others in their 60s taking part in the swim.

Approximately 35 volunteers will be supporting the weekend event, some traveling from Maryland, Quebec City, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Magog.

Cutting of the pool will begin on Wednesday.

A ribbon cutting and opening ceremony with potato gun salute will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Friday.

The first swim starts at 9:30 a.m.

Spectators are welcome to come out and watch these remarkable swimmers.

The Winter Swim Festival is organized by Kingdom Games which holds over 20 days of highly acclaimed running, biking, and swimming events in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Helicopters used to collar moose in the NEK

in Essex County/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Residents may have seen a helicopter flying low overhead as the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department began collaring 30 moose for the third year of a three-year study.

The radio-collaring is being carried out primarily within Essex County by a professional contractor.

Capture efforts require flying just above tree height and are expected to take between 5 and 10 days.

“Many local residents may have noticed these helicopters capturing moose in January of 2017 and 2018, but we felt all Essex County residents and landowners should once again be made aware of this activity,” said Cedric Alexander, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s lead moose biologist.

Wildlife experts will be using nets to capture moose from the helicopter and handling it without the use of tranquilizers.

The processing of a captured moose is completed in minutes and is done using well-established wildlife handling techniques that minimize stress and harm to the animal.

Ninety-six moose have already been captured using these methods thus far in the study.

Department staff having been tracking collared moose for the past two years using the GPS points gathered by the collars and have been visiting moose directly in the field to record observations.

Vermont is the fourth northeastern state to partake in such a study – state fish and wildlife agencies in New Hampshire, Maine, and New York are currently using the same methods to examine their moose herds.

The study will be completed at the end of this year.

“Moose in the Northeast are facing a variety of threats ranging from a warming climate to increasing winter tick loads, and we appreciate the public’s support as we study how these factors are impacting Vermont’s moose population,” Alexander said.

Wild & Woolly Competitive Snowshoe Races February 9 in East Charleston

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center will be hosting the Wild & Woolly Snowshoe Races at their campus in East Charleston on February 9.

The event kicks off from 9:30 a.m. and will go until 2:00 p.m.

During last autumn’s Westmore Mountain Challenge, organizers say participants requested a similarly spirited competition for the winter months.

NorthWoods trails in February offer a true winter wonderland experience, and the Wild & Woolly is an invitation for the community to come out and explore.

“We developed this event to celebrate some of our favorite things,” said NorthWoods Education & Outreach Director, Maria Young. “The beautiful hills and trails where we work and play, individual challenge, team support, and good cheer.”

IronWood Adventure Works, which hosted the “24-Hours In the NEK” long distance run on NorthWoods trails last autumn, will be coordinating race set up and timing.

The course will consist of a 5k, 10k, or 15k loop, traversing both groomed and snowshoe-packed trails through the varied terrain of NorthWoods’ forested campus in East Charleston, with a shorter 2.5k loop for beginners.

According to Young, the event is geared not just toward athletes but to their families as well.

“This is a great event for both competitors and families looking for a fun day out this winter,” she said. “In addition to the timed snowshoe races, there will be outdoor activities such as ice skating, canoe-sledding, s’mores, and of course the original Wild & Woolly, a costumed fun race around the pond in our old traditional wooden snowshoes.”

A hearty lunch of chili and cornbread is included for all attendees and entry is free for children age 12 and under.

The event coincides with the Island Pond Winter Carnival weekend, providing a great opportunity for families to spend a day or weekend enjoying winter festivities in the Northeast Kingdom.

Local teen swimmer selected one of Vermont Sports Magazine’s Athletes of the Year

in Derby/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

DERBY – Fourteen-year-old Vera Rivard has been selected as one of Vermont Sports Magazine’s 2018 Athletes of the Year.

Vera and her family live in Springfield, NH and have a summer camp in Derby with access to Lake Memphremagog, where she trains.

During the winter she swims with Upper Valley Aquatic Club.

In July of 2018, Vera became the youngest swimmer, male or female, to swim the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog, which she did in 16 hours and 24 minutes.

Just as impressive, she did so against fierce headwinds during the first 15 miles, which knocked five other experienced swimmers out of the water, leaving her among only two who finished in Magog.

In August of 2018, she also completed the NEK Swim Week, 8 Lakes over the course of 9 days, double-crossing Lac Massawippi and Willoughby, for a total of 60 miles on all eight lakes.

At the beginning of the year, in February of 2018, she became the youngest swimmer to participate in the Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival, swimming each and every event from the 25-meter hat competition to the 200-meter freestyle.

This year, she leads a group of four youth swimmers participating in the festival, including her eleven-year-old sister Margaret.

She started her open water swimming in 2014, when she was 10, with a 1-mile swim at Kingdom Swim and a 3-mile swim at Caspian.

She has grown her distances each year since then.

While she was swimming Kingdom Swim’s 10-mile course in 2016 around the islands of Derby Bay, she and her mother fell in love with the lake, and her family bought a summer camp in Derby, with access to Lake Memphremagog.

NorthWoods Watershed Crew celebrates another year of clean water projects

in Charleston/News/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center Conservation Corps’ Watershed Crew has completed its fourth year implementing water quality improvement projects throughout Vermont.

Since 2015, the NorthWoods Watershed Crew has installed infiltration steps, open-top culverts, rain gardens, dry wells, dripline trenches, water bars, culverts, and many more stormwater management practices that are designed to help prevent sediment and other water quality detractors from entering into the region’s surface waters.

In 2018 alone, the NorthWoods summer youth crew and adult fall pro crew planted 148 perennial plants, installed 65 infiltration steps, 40 waterbars, 13 open-top culverts, a rain garden, a 4,000-gallon vegetated swale, and 5 culvert headers.

They also implemented a fiber coir log with rock toe bank stabilization design on an eroding lakeshore.

While the projects completed had a wide range of partners, components, tool requirements, and scopes, they all shared the common goal of completing vital, practical steps toward improving water quality throughout the state of Vermont.

Step into the new year with a First Day Hike in Westmore

in Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — While many are planning to burn the midnight oil to ring in 2019, others are aiming to get out of bed and into nature on the first day of the New Year.

State parks around the nation will host free, guided hikes as a part of First Day Hikes, and Jean Haigh with The Green Mountain Club will be leading a tour of Long Pond in Westmore.

Hikers will meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Long Pond Trail Head.

The hike has beautiful views of Long Pond, Lake Willoughby, and Bald Mountain.

It is considered a moderate trail with a few tricky areas.

Snowshoes or microspikes will be needed for this 4-mile round trip.

The hike is in memory of Dave Hardy, who devoted decades of work to the stewardship of the Long Trail.

All ages are welcome.

For more information, contact Jean at jhaightvt@gmail.com, or call 802-586-9637.

VT Fish & Wildlife to conduct angler survey on Lake Memphremagog

in Newport/News/Outdoors/Quebec

NEWPORT – The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is beginning an angler survey on Lake Memphremagog this December.

The survey will extend through November 2020 and will survey anglers on both the American and Canadian sections of the lake.

Clerks from the department will interview anglers on the lake 2 to 4 days per week, including Saturdays and Sundays during the survey period.

Survey activities will include visual counts of anglers, interviews of anglers to obtain information about the fishing effort, catch and harvest rates, and biological data such as the length, weight, and age of fish kept by anglers.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission funded the two-year survey.

Lake Memphremagog is over 30 miles long.

Three-quarters of the lake is in Quebec, however, three-quarters of the land area that drains into the lake, is in Vermont.

“The angler survey will provide important biological data about the fishery and angling pressure in different areas of Lake Memphremagog,” said Pete Emerson, a fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “This information is extremely useful to our department in helping us manage the lake’s fish populations.”

Emerson emphasized to anglers that all information shared with the survey clerks will remain confidential.

“Ultimately, anglers providing honest, accurate information will allow us to manage the resource moving forward and ensure that quality fishing opportunities remain in Lake Memphremagog for years to come,” he said.

Green Fire film screening and discussion at NorthWoods

in Charleston/News/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — Next Friday, December 14, at 6:30 p.m, NorthWoods Stewardship Center and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Conservation Group will co-host a free screening of the film Green Fire, with a discussion to follow.

Green Fire traces Leopold’s personal journey and follows the threads that connect to his legacy today, an extension of the land ethic he championed.

In 1949, Aldo Leopold wrote in the Sand County Almanac, “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

A panel of local outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists, and hunters will follow the screening to lead a discussion to comment on the film, their personal connection to Leopold’s legacy, and current challenges in rebuilding engagement in the conservation and hunting ethic that has guided many generations of north country residents.

Light refreshment will be provided.

Photo by Phil White.

Newport woman qualifies for upcoming Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival

in Derby/Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — A 62-year-old woman from Newport spent her Sunday qualifying for the upcoming Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival taking place in February of 2019.

Lynn Rublee swam 25 meters in 35-degree water at Eagle Point on Lake Memphremagog.

In doing so, she became the 80th winter swimmer to sign up for the upcoming Festival held on Lake Memphremagog.

Also qualifying this past weekend was Elizabeth Hershey, 52, of Conestoga, PA.

The pool is the only 25-meter, two-lane winter swimming pool cut in the ice in all of North America.

As the festival heads into its fifth year, the number of registrants has already topped last year’s numbers with room for just 20 more swimmers.

Registration closes on February 1.

Among the 80 already signed up, some of the locals include Vera Rivard, 15, and her younger sister, Margaret Rivard, 11, of Derby. Pam Ladds, of Newport, is also ready to go.

The pool is scheduled to be cut on Thursday and Friday, February 21 and 22, 2019, and the event kicks off that Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Backcountry ski and ride project in Willoughby State Forest expands

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — The Northeast Kingdom Backcountry Coalition, also known as NEKBC for short, is updating its pilot backcountry ski and ride project in the Willoughby State Forest.

The coalition began working with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation in the fall of 2016 to design and develop winter backcountry recreation opportunities that supplement the existing ski and snowshoe trail network in the Willoughby State Forest.

The project is the first of its kind on state lands to provide access and manage vegetation to provide backcountry snow sports for the public.

NEKBC says they are committed to creating legitimate and sustainable backcountry routes and hopes to stop rogue and illegal cutting on state and private lands.

Most recently, the coalition has been working closely with specialist Luke O’Brien, who is one of several such professionals across the state recently hired to work closely with partners, volunteers, and contractors on outdoor recreation projects on state lands, including sustainable trail development and maintenance, assessment and monitoring of recreation sites, and promoting sustainable outdoor recreation activities.

The collaborative project has resulted in the design of backcountry zones that include ski lines on Mt. Hor, and Bartlett Mountain.

Also developed is a network of uphill tracks to connect to the parking lot on Route 5A and the various backcountry zones.

These improvements complement the existing 12k network of groomed Nordic ski trails offered in the Willoughby State Forest.

The group says they continue to work to identify, mark, clear, and monitor trails to create a sustainable backcountry trail system in the forest.

Free Discover Girl Scouts event Nov. 29 in Brownington

in Brownington/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

BROWNINGTON — Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains will be holding a free information session for girls and parents on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Brownington Central School.

Those interested and their families will meet local Girl Scouts and volunteers, as well as learn about expanded STEM and outdoor programs.

They will also enjoy fun, girl-led activities, explore available programs, learn about volunteer opportunities, and register to become Girl Scouts.

Plus, girls will receive a free Discover Girl Scouts embroidered patch.

Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves over 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

To learn more about Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org, or call 1-888-474-9686 if you have any questions.

Vermont’s rifle deer season starts tomorrow

in News/Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Hunters are gearing up for the start of Vermont’s traditionally popular 16-day rifle deer season that starts tomorrow, November 10 and ends Sunday, November 25.

A hunter may take one buck during this season with at least one antler having two or more points one inch or longer.

A point must be one inch or longer from base to tip. The main beam counts as a point, regardless of length.

Spike-antlered deer, mostly yearlings, are protected during this season.

“There are more deer in Vermont than there have been in recent years with the greatest numbers of deer found in the southwestern and northwestern regions of the state,” said Deer Project Leader Nick Fortin.

Vermont’s regular hunting licenses, including a November rifle season buck tag and a late season bear tag (for Nov. 10-18), cost $26 for residents and $100 for nonresidents.

Hunters under 18 years of age get a break at $8 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.

Licenses are available on Fish & Wildlife’s website and from license agents statewide.

Fish & Wildlife urges hunters to wear a fluorescent orange hat and vest to help maintain Vermont’s very good hunting season safety record.

US Cross Country National Championships coming to Craftsbury

in Craftsbury/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — The Craftsbury Outdoor Center will host the 2019 US Cross Country National Championships.

The event will take place from January 3 through January 8.

Presented by L.L. Bean, the championships will include a week of cross-country racing featuring the best athletes in the country, including Vermont Olympians and the future stars of United States skiing.

These competitions will crown National Champions, serve as tryout races for the US World Junior Championships, U18 Scandinavian Cup, and help select athletes for the FIS World Cup and World Championships.

The best junior and senior athletes in the country will be in attendance to compete for a chance to represent Team USA in international competition.

Racing kicks off on Thursday, January 3 with a 10k/15k classic individual start competition.

Friday features a 1.5km sprint in the classic style.

After a day off on Saturday, racers will compete in a freestyle mass start competition on Sunday, January 6, 30k for men, 20k for women, 10k for junior boys, and 5k for junior girls.

On Sunday evening, all registered coaches and athletes are invited to a banquet which will recognize race winners and name the World Junior and U18 Scandinavian Cup teams.

Tuesday, January 8th wraps up the series with 1.5km freestyle sprints.

Upcoming workshop to showcase local erosion control practices

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — There will be a workshop on October 4 at the Dolloff Pond Access Ramp in Willoughby State Forest to showcase the erosion control practices installed by the NorthWoods Watershed Crew over the summer.

The workshop is the last part of an outreach program conducted by the Memphremagog Watershed Association (MWA) over the 2018 field season.

“With funding from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, this year MWA has been providing educational programming on shoreland erosion control practices to professionals and has also been connecting professionals with projects in our area,” explains Kendall Lambert, Administrative Director for MWA.

In May and June MWA held two workshops showcasing erosion control methods for shoreland properties.

Expert speakers from the public and private sectors were brought to Shadow Lake in Glover as well as the North Country Career Center in Newport to speak about the need for these practices and to demonstrate or provide tours installed practices.

The workshops attracted nearly 70 participants.

After the workshops, MWA staff has been working to connect local landowners with professionals who can evaluate, design, and implement erosion control practices.

“Every time it rains, that stormwater runs off impervious or slick surfaces and carries sediment, and maybe even your driveway or shoreline, into our waterways,” Lambert explained.

Erosion from our shorelands is not only inconvenient for landowners, but it carries sediment, phosphorus, and pollutants into our waterways.

This impacts local water quality and aquatic habitat.

If you’re interested in coming to the October workshop to tour project examples, the workshop will be on Dolloff Pond Road, on the Dolloff Pond access ramp, Sutton, Vermont from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on October 4.

NorthWoods accepting nominations for 6th Annual Buzzell Award

in Charleston/News/Outdoors

CHARLESTON — NorthWoods Stewardship Center is taking nominations for the sixth annual George Buzzell Forest Stewardship Award.

In honor of the esteemed county forester for which it is named, this award recognizes an individual who is making a positive impact on Northeast Kingdom forests.

An award ceremony will be held at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

During his 44 years as Orleans County Forester, George Buzzell exemplified the best practice of his trade, including research that helped to re-define sugarbush management in Vermont.

Buzzell also cast a welcoming net, encouraging education and inviting the community into the conversation and practice of forestry.

With this award, they will honor the outstanding contributions of George Buzzell and recognize others who are carrying the torch of forest stewardship in the Northeast Kingdom.

Eligible candidates are those who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to sustainable management of forestland in the NEK, and who have also worked to advance or share knowledge to ensure the long-term resiliency and productivity of our forests.

The individual’s direct impact can include hands-on work, policy improvement, education, training, or a combination.

NorthWoods will welcome nominations of candidates until Monday, October 22.

For the nomination form and instructions, contact Sam Perron at NorthWoods, (802) 723-6551 ext 302, or sam@northwoodscenter.org.

Hunting lottery announced for Bluffside Farm in Newport

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — The Vermont Land Trust will be holding a lottery for hunting on Bluffside Farm in Newport.

This is the third year the land trust has held the hunting lottery.

The farm was purchased by the land trust in late 2015, at which point it was opened to the public for recreation for the first time.

In addition to hunting, community members have enjoyed walking and skiing trails, local schools have used the land as an outdoor classroom, and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corp has been growing vegetables there for North Country Hospital.

The Vermont Land Trust will issue permission for deer hunting at Bluffside during three periods:

October 20 to November 2, November 10 to 25, and December 1 to 9.

All hunting will be archery-only, because of the Newport City ordinance banning firearms.

These will be the only dates when hunting will be permitted, and all applicable rules will apply.

Bluffside Farm has become a popular area for walking and will continue to be open to pedestrians during hunting season.

Notices will be posted in parking lots, but people should be mindful that hunters may be present during these times.

The Vermont Land Trust requires that all hunters carry written permission and hunt only in the designated portions of the property, away from neighboring houses.

More information and the lottery application are available at vlt.org/hunt or by calling (802) 745-6303.

The deadline for applications is September 28.

NorthWoods announces new executive director

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center announced the appointment of Jonathan Gilbert as the organization’s new executive director.

Originally from Quebec and now 20 years in Vermont, Gilbert says his passion is promoting a healthy society based on harmonious relationships between people and the land.

“I am honored to merge my journey with the NorthWoods community and to deepen my relationship with the land and the northern forest,” Gilbert said.

As a co-founder of Heartbeet Lifesharing in Hardwick, he arrives with a vast range of life experiences in community building and a love for the earth, people, and the local community.

The NorthWoods Stewardship Center is an environmental non-profit based in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and serves communities throughout New England.

The organization is in its 29th year of outdoor education, forestry, and conservation service programming.

“We are very excited to welcome Jonathan to the NorthWoods community,” NorthWoods board president Cathie Wheeler said. “His leadership skills and communication style bring a new rhythm and focus to the organization.”

Vermont bear hunting starts September 1

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Vermont’s bear hunting season starts September 1, and officials say hunters can improve their chances if they scout ahead of time to find fall foods such as wild apples, beechnuts, acorns, and berries where bears will be feeding.

“Fall foods for bears are more abundant than they were last year,” said Vermont’s bear biologist Forrest Hammond.

Bears will likely be feeding along power lines and in forest openings and old fields where berries and apples can be found.

They also are likely to be feeding on standing corn.

Vermont has two bear hunting seasons. The early bear hunting season, which requires a special bear tag, starts September 1 and continues through November 10.

The late bear season begins November 11 and continues through November 19.

A hunter may only take one bear during the year.

Hammond says Vermont’s regulated bear hunting seasons help in managing the state’s population of about 5,400 bears.

A new regulation now requires hunters to collect and turn in a small pre-molar tooth from each harvested bear.

The collection of a premolar tooth is critical to the bear project as it provides important data on the age structure of the bear population and for making population estimates.

Hunters took 697 bears last year in 193 Vermont towns.

New hunting and angling workshop series kicking off in East Charleston

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — This week NorthWoods Stewardship Center (NWSC) and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Conservation Group (VFWCG) announced a new workshop series kicking off this September called Modern Traditions in Hunting and Angling.

The upcoming workshops give equal weight to “the old ways,” traditions in hunting and angling that include a deep connection with the land and wildlife, as well as a modern approach and understanding of the role that hunting and fishing have in conservation and our communities today.

While the mission and community of both non-profit organizations have often covered common ground, this series marks a more formal commitment from both groups.

The events slated for the coming year seek to reach a broader audience, to provide skill-building, knowledge and enrichment activities, forums for idea sharing, and to inspire and empower more of the local community to take part in the traditions of hunting and angling that have deep roots in this region.

VFWCG Board President Matt Breton and NWSC Education Director Maria Young see this series as an ideal way to reach those goals.Breton recognizes that stepping in as a new adult hunter or angler can be intimidating.

“We want to break down barriers to participation for those people who want to hunt and fish but lack the knowledge and skills required so that they can procure food for themselves and their families, and interact with nature at a deeper level,” said Breton.

In the Fall of 2018, look for “Bucks That Got Away,” on Saturday, September 29, a workshop based on Breton’s recently published book of the same name, featuring tips for success for the thoughtful hunter and tracker.

On October 20, a Wild Game Processing workshop will help those new to the experience, and those looking to hone their techniques and learn from a professional butcher and avid hunter.

Other workshops and collaborations planned for the coming year include a film screening and land ethic discussion panel, duck decoy making, a shed meet and wild game dinner, and a youth fishing derby.

NEK Swim Week, 8 lakes in 9 days

in Newport/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — As we head deeper into the miracle of summer, NEK Swim Week is approaching.

From August 11 to August 19, swim week will cover 8 lakes in 9 days throughout the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec

The event schedule is as follows:

Saturday, August 11 at Crystal, Sunday, August 12 at Island Pond, Monday, August 13 at Lac Massawippi, Tuesday, August 14 at Lake Seymour, Wednesday, August 15 at Echo Lake, Thursday, August 16 the Province Island Swim, Saturday, August 18 at Lake Willoughby, and Sunday, August 19 at Caspian Lake.

Swim week had its origins with the Lake Willoughby Swim in 2010, starting with just 12 swimmers that the first year.

This year, around 60 swimmers will come from Ottawa, Montreal, California, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Indiana, Texas, Delaware, Maine, Tennessee, DC, Arizona, Maryland, and all over Vermont.

All swimmers are accompanied by escort kayakers. Volunteer patrol boats on each of the other lakes make the swims possible.

The swims are organized by Kingdom Games, which now hosts over 25 days of running, biking, swimming, and ice skating events in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Learn about Vermont’s black bears in Lyndonville on August 7

in Lyndonville/News/Outdoors

LYNDONVILLE — Vermonters of all ages are invited to attend a presentation about Vermont’s black bears at the Lyndon Town School on Tuesday, August 7 at 6:00 p.m.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s Tom Rogers will talk about the extraordinary life history of bears, their ecology and behaviors, and what people can do to better co-exist with bears.

Through colorful photos and captivating stories, the audience will come away with a new appreciation for these intelligent animals.

Vermont State Game Warden Jason Dukette will be in attendance to meet with the public and answer questions.

Warden Dukette is stationed in the Northeast Kingdom and has extensive experience providing advice and assistance to residents on bear-human conflicts.

“Bears are fascinating animals and are sometimes feared or misunderstood,” said Rogers. “We’ll talk about the challenges they face and what people can do to live safely alongside bears here in Vermont.”

The talk is free and open to the public.

Swimmers set to swim full length of Memphremagog on Wednesday

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — This Wednesday, seven ultra-marathon open water swimmers will gather to swim the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog, between Newport, Vermont and Magog, Quebec.

They will be departing from the EastSide Restaurant and Prouty Beach in Newport at 5:00 a.m. and expected to cross the border into Canada between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

In Search of Memphre is an amateur swim, started on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 intended to promote a more open border with our Canadian neighbors.

Joining this July’s Search are Vera Rivard, 14, of Springfield, NH and Derby, VT, Eric Schall, 57, of Kingston, PA, Mary Stella Stabinsky, 41, of Plains, PA, Sharessa Gutierrez, 37, of Omaha, NE, Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist, 34, of Excelsior, MN, Dan Shub, 69, of Baltimore, MD, and Cara Manlandro, 38, of Derwood, MD.

They are joined by 26 others in support of the swim, serving as escort and patrol boat pilots, crew, and ground personnel.

Border crossing has been facilitated by Canadian law enforcement which has reviewed the roster of participants and pre-approved the crossing.

Organizers say US officials have been extremely helpful in facilitating crossings.

If successful, Vera Rivard would be the youngest to swim the length of the lake and Dan Shub would be the oldest to do so.

In 2018, at least 60 swimmers will be undertaking swims of various distances, from 10km to 25 miles, that involve crossing the border.

This year’s class of “Swimmer Scouts” have dedicated their swims to the Asylum Seekers and are encouraging donations to the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project at https://asylumadvocacy.org/

Several of the swimmers, their support, and their families come from backgrounds of seeking asylum in the United States from horrific and dangerous conditions in their nations of origin.

Harry Corrow Freedom Run coming to Newport July 4

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Organizers are gearing up for another Harry Corrow Freedom Run taking place on the bike path and the Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation Trails.

The run will kick off July 4, starting at 8:30 a.m.

Runners will start at North Country Hospital, where the gravel portion of the bike path begins.

The run features a 10 mile, 6.2 mile, 3.1 mile, and 1-mile run/walk.

The distances are perfect for all ages and all abilities, as well as great for families.

There is no running on city streets involved in the course.

“We celebrate freedom from tyranny, freedom from asphalt, freedom to choose your distance, and freedom of spirit,” Phil White said.

The event will be followed by Newport’s Fourth of July and Centennial Party in Gardner Park, including afternoon bed races.

Mountain bike trail ride part of Newport Centennial Celebration

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Mountain bike and trail enthusiasts will enjoy riding single track and open track trails on Sunday, July 1, as part of the Newport Centennial Celebration.

The ride kicks off at Primeau Woods at 10 a.m. and takes riders through open trail systems best suited for beginners and intermediate mountain bikers, or the single trail system through woods, over rocks, narrow bridges, stumps and exciting trails.

Single track riders will need to bring their own mountain bike with at least 2” wide tires, helmets and water bottles.

This will be an adventure ride for those who love mountain biking or want to get started in mountain biking.

Kids under 12 are welcomed to ride the open trail loop with adult supervision.

The event is being sponsored by the Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation.

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Bobcat caught on game camera in Brandon

in Outdoors/Vermont

BRANDON — This bobcat was caught in a series of photos on a game camera set up under a bridge in Brandon.

The cameras are put out as part of a collaborative partnership between Vermont Fish & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, and VTrans to better understand wildlife movement around road crossing structures.

“This bobcat passing under the road highlights the fact that wildlife are always on the move,” said John Austin, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s lands and habitat program manager. “They need to travel across the landscape to find food or water, to search for mates, or to find places to den or raise their young. Maintaining healthy and connected habitats is one of the most important things we can do to help wildlife continue to thrive in Vermont.”

Information learned through this collaborative partnership has allowed VTrans to modify the design of bridges, culverts, and overpasses to permit improved movement of fish and wildlife, while also making these crossings safer for drivers on the road.

Additionally, these modifications often help these structures to become more resilient to flooding events.

“We have thousands of photos of wildlife using these structures to safely move from one side of the road to the other, including shots of moose, bear, and deer, as well as several other bobcat photos. But rarely do we get such a fascinating glimpse into the behavior of an animal as it’s passing in front of the camera,” said Austin.

Improving road crossings is one part of a larger effort of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to use science to sustain healthy habitats for wildlife across the state, referred to as Vermont Conservation Design.

Other aspects of Vermont Conservation Design help protect Vermont’s forests from over-development, maintain clean air and water, and support the social and economic benefits of the state’s healthy fish and wildlife.

Guided wildlife walk at Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area on May 16

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

VICTORY — Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Northeast Kingdom Audubon are excited to partner on a birding and wildlife-viewing tour at Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area on May 16.

Doug Morin, a wildlife biologist with Fish & Wildlife, and Tom Berriman, an experienced birder with Northeast Kingdom Audubon, will co-lead this wildlife-based exploration of a truly unique part of Vermont.

“We’ll focus on finding the birds of Victory Basin WMA – both the exciting new arrivals of spring migrants and some of the year-round residents, including rare boreal species,” said Morin. “We’ll also keep eye out for trees, flowers, tracks, and any other curiosities we find along the way.”

Victory Basin is a vast lowland boreal forest that is common in northern Canada but rare here in Vermont, allowing visitors to feel like they’ve stepped into another world.

“We have a chance of spotting boreal wildlife such as gray jays, rusty blackbirds, snowshoe hare, and moose,” Morin said.

Two sessions will be offered on May 16, one from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and a second from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Participants are asked to bring binoculars and to wear appropriate clothing for being outdoors, including rain-proof layers. Waterproof boots are highly recommended, and spotting scopes and field guides are welcome.

Participants should also be able to walk 1-2 miles at a relaxed pace over a relatively flat trail.

The public can register for the event by visiting bit.ly/VTFWbirding.

Admission is free and is limited to the first 14 people who sign up for each session.

For information on other birding trips in the Northeast Kingdom, visit NEK Audubon at https://nek-audubon.squarespace.com/.

Dandelion Run welcomes 10k record holder Aleksei Bingham of Derby

in Derby/Newport/News/Outdoors

DERBY – The Dandelion Run is welcoming this year’s local celebrity runner, 18-year-old, Aleksei Bingham, of Derby.

Aleksei holds the Dandy’s 10km record of 0:35:48, which he set last year.

This year’s Dandy is scheduled to be run on Saturday, May 19, 2018, starting at the Derby Beach House on the 4 H Road in the town of Derby.

In 2015, at 15, Bingham came in fifth among the males with a time of 0:44:56, four minutes behind his coach, Chris Shaffer.

In 2016, he came in first with a time of 0:38:31, gunning down Shaffer without mercy.

Last year he set the course record becoming the king of the 10K.

This year Aleksei was named North Country Boys Indoor Track & Field Player of the Year by the Caledonian Record.

He won both the 1,500 and 3,000-meter events at the Division 1, Indoor State Championships.

Aleksei, like many youth in the area, has been running the Dandy for years.

Each year, many elementary schools field teams for the 2 mile, 4 mile, and 10k competitions, helping to teach kids a joy of running.

With some great coaching in junior high and high school, many continue their love of running.

The Northeast Kingdom produces some highly competitive cross-country runners like Aleksei.

For information and registration for the Dandy remains open at www.kingdomgames.co or contact Phil White at phw1948@gmail.com

Amphibians begin migration, drivers asked to slow down

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — One of the great wildlife migrations is happening right now, and it’s taking place right at our feet.

You may have already heard the spring peepers or wood frogs calling in your backyard. Or perhaps you’ve noticed salamanders crawling over rocks in a nearby stream.

Amphibians are on the move, but their spring breeding migration can too often become deadly.

Amphibians migrate by the thousands each spring in search of breeding pools. This migration frequently takes them across roads and highways where they are killed by cars, which contributes to species’ decline in Vermont, according to biologist Jens Hilke with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

“Frogs and salamanders become active on rainy spring nights,” said Hilke. “On these nights, drivers should slow down on roads near ponds and wetlands or try to use an alternate route. These amphibian ‘hotspots’ can lead to the death of thousands of animals on a single night.”

Hilke is asking drivers to report these hotspots, or areas with large numbers of frogs and salamanders that cross the road all at once.

You can contact the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas by emailing Jim Andrews at jandrews@vtherpatlas.org

“We work hard to identify these hotspots and to mitigate the problem whenever possible to help give these animals a better chance of survival,” said Hilke.

The Fish & Wildlife Department is working with the Vermont Agency of Transportation to include culverts and wildlife barriers in road construction plans to allow wildlife, from frogs to moose, to more safely cross the road.

The town of Monkton has completed a highway project that is aimed at providing amphibians with a safe way to cross under the road.

Conservation officials and volunteers also work together on rainy spring nights to slow traffic and manually move amphibians across the road.

Trout sea­son opens this Saturday

in Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Ver­mon­t’s tra­di­tional trout fish­ing sea­son is set to open on Sat­ur­day, April 14, and de­spite re­cent cold weather and lin­ger­ing snow cover across the state, of­fi­cials from Ver­mont Fish and Wildlife say an­glers can be suc­cess­ful early in the sea­son by fol­low­ing a few ba­sic tips.

“Just like any other time of year, an­glers fish­ing early in the spring should ad­just their tac­tics based on the con­di­tions,” said Bret Ladago, state fish­eries bi­ol­o­gist. “Given the cold weather and runoff from re­cent storms and snow melt, wa­ter lev­els will be high, flows will be faster than nor­mal and wa­ter tem­per­a­tures will be cold.

Ladago says an­glers may want to tar­get small to medium low-el­e­va­tion rivers and streams where flows are slow and wa­ters will warm more quickly. Find­ing wa­ter that is­n’t too muddy can be key, and slow­ing your lure or bait re­trieval will help tempt slug­gish trout into bit­ing.

Trout will of­ten hold close to the bot­tom in the deeper ar­eas of streams dur­ing high flow con­di­tions to con­serve en­ergy. Choose lo­ca­tions and tac­tics that al­low for fish­ing bait or lures right along the bot­tom.

Ladago says that fish­ing slowly with worms or spin­ners through deep holes be­hind cur­rent breaks cre­ated by big boul­ders, downed trees or log-jams can be pro­duc­tive for early sea­son trout.

Ver­mont is known for its ex­cel­lent and di­verse fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for wild trout. Trout stock­ing in streams and rivers gen­er­ally oc­curs in May, fol­low­ing spring runoff, so most early sea­son fish­ing is en­tirely sup­ported by wild trout.

“An­gling suc­cess may be im­proved by fo­cus­ing on wa­ters known to hold wild fish,” Mr. Ladago said. “De­spite un­pre­dictable weather dur­ing early spring, each year an­glers re­port catch­ing im­pres­sive trout dur­ing open­ing week­end.”

Sey­mour Lake gets $17,248 to help keep invasive species out

in Morgan/Outdoors

MORGAN — A $17,248 grant has been awarded to the town of Mor­gan from Ver­mon­t’s De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

The grant, in part­ner­ship with the Sey­mour Lake As­so­ci­a­tion, will go to as­sist with the Aquatic In­va­sive Species Pre­ven­tion Pro­gram.

According to the association, the pro­gram at Sey­mour Lake has been suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing the spread of in­va­sive species since 2000.

They’ve done so through in­spect­ing boats en­ter­ing the lake, and ed­u­cat­ing lake users to the meth­ods in­va­sive species spread.

The pro­gram op­er­ates seven-days per week, 12-hours per day at the Sey­mour Lake fish­ing ac­cess from Memo­r­ial Day week­end un­til the end of Oc­to­ber.

In ad­di­tion, a boat wash sta­tion will be in use to de­con­t­a­m­i­nate wa­ter­craft and as­so­ci­ated equip­ment en­ter­ing Sey­mour Lake com­ing from “at-risk” wa­ter bod­ies.

The process includes running water that is heated to over 140 degrees through live wells, outboard motor intakes, inboard motor intakes, fishing equipment, anchors and any other part of the watercraft that may be considered at risk.

State suggests Vermonters remove bird feeders April 1

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says warm spring weather and melting snows will cause bears to come out of their winter dens in search of food.

The department recommends taking down bird feeders on April 1 to avoid attracting them.

Bears are very fond of suet and birdseed, especially black oil sunflower seed.

Bringing feeders in at night doesn’t work because bears will still feed on seed that is spilled on the ground.

Bird feeders are just one of the things that can attract hungry bears. Other sources of food that bear find appealing are pet food, barbecue grills, garbage, household trash containers, open dumpsters, and campsites with accessible food and food wastes.

Officials are also reminding Vermonters that purposely feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear, it’s also illegal.

Fish & Wildlife offers the following tips to avoid bear problems:

Keep chickens and honeybees secure within an electric fence or other bear-proof enclosure.

Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally.

Feed your pets indoors.

Store trash in a secure place. Trash cans alone are not enough.

“We are asking anyone who has a problem with a bear to report the incident in a form that we have on our website,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont’s bear biologist.

That form can be found at www.vtfishandwildlife.com under “Living with Wildlife.”

“There is a section in the form where you can ask us to call you to provide advice.”

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