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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.”

Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival draws international crowd

NEWPORT — Winter swimmers gathered in Newport for a weekend of swimming in a 25-meter, two-lane pool cut in the ice of Lake Memphremagog.

They swam in a Hat Competition, 25 Meter freestyle, breaststroke, and butterfly, as well as the 50, 100, and 200-meter freestyle.

The ice was two feet thick, with water temperatures 30.8 F. Air temps were in the 30’s on Saturday and in the 20’s on Sunday. Many were new to the sport and had been training and acclimating to cold water swimming for months.

Conor Turner of Dublin, Ireland, set records in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle.

Craig Ross, of Guelph, Ontario, set pool records in the 25 freestyle, 25 butterfly, and 50-meter freestyle.

Perennial speedsters, Daina Bouquin, of Melrose, Mass, and Martha Woos, of Manchester, Mass, set records in the 25-meter butterfly and the 200-meter freestyle respectively.

Winners received Beef Jerky from Brault’s Market and maple syrup from Couture’s Maple Shop and B & B.

Winning the highly contested Best Hat Competition was Edwin Greenfield of Richmond Hil, Ontario, and, new this year, best team Hats, the New Mexico Dream Team, led by Erin Churchill, including, Amber Zimmerman, Terry Casey, and RuthAnn Goradia, all from Albuquerque.

The “most mature” winter swimmer was Ginny Peck, 72, from North Woodstock, NH.

The youngest winter swimmer was Vera Rivard, 14, of Springfield, NH.

Newport set to welcome 75 winter swimmers this weekend

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Winter swimmers from all over North America, Ireland, and Scotland will be descending on Newport next weekend for the Fourth Annual Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival, hosted by Kingdom Games.

They will swim distances ranging from 25 meters to 200 meters in a two-lane 25-meter pool cut in the ice.
Crews will begin cutting the pool on Thursday.

Saturday kicks off at 10 a.m. with a 25-meter Hat Competition, the best hat winning a pound of Brault’s Beef Jerky. The swims continue until 4 p.m. on Saturday and resume again on Sunday at 10 a.m.

The public is welcome to come watch.

Event organizers say the number of swimmers has doubled from last year.

While many are veterans of this sport, many others are novices who have been training and qualifying all this past fall and winter. Twelve swimmers are traveling from Ontario, 12 from New York, and 12 from the Boston area.

Four swimmers are coming from Ireland, 4 more from New Mexico, 1 from Scotland, 1 from Alaska, as well as from Georgia, Tennessee. California, Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The swims are also supported by over 25 volunteers, many local, but many also traveling from places like Quebec City and New York City to help out and enjoy the Festival.

For more information vist www.kingdomgames.co or contact Phil White, Director of Kingdom Games at phw1948@gmail.com

Newport police offer ice safety tips

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT— Chief Seth C. DiSanto and the Newport Police Department are reminding residents to be aware of the possibility that ice on frozen bodies of water may still be thin despite the persistent extreme cold.

Although temperatures have often been in the teens and single digits this winter, it may still be unsafe to walk, skate or fish on the ice.

“We urge residents to be extremely careful when considering whether or not to go out onto the ice,” Chief DiSanto said.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs says ice should always be measured in multiple places before testing it with your weight. Ice two inches thick or less should be avoided completely. Ice with a thickness of four inches or more is considered safe for ice fishing or other activities on foot. Five inches of ice is recommended for snowmobiles or ATVs.

Eight to 12 inches is necessary for a small car, while 12 to 15 inches of ice is necessary for trucks.

Police say never go onto the ice alone since it’s unlikely you will be able to call for help if you fall through the ice. Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue it. Call 911 instead.

New ice is usually stronger than old ice. As the ice ages, the bond between the crystals decay, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred.

Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing.

Slush is a danger sign, indicating that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and can be weak or deteriorating.

Ice formed over flowing water, rivers or lakes containing a large number of springs, is generally 15 percent weaker.

Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be one foot thick in one spot and be only one inch thick 10 feet away.

What To Do If Someone Falls Through Ice?

Reach-Throw-Go: If someone falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.)

If this does not work, go for help before you also become a victim. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.

If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet.

Once out, remain lying on the ice, do not stand, and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice.

If you have any questions, call the Newport Police Department at 802-334-6733.

If you feel that someone may be in danger, dial 911.

“Although this winter has been consistently cold, we’ve experienced a mix of weather that can affect the safety of frozen bodies of water,” Chief DiSanto said. “We hope that everyone will keep these tips in mind to avoid falling through thin ice.”

Kingdom Games return in February to Newport

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — The Kingdom Games, a series of competitive athletic events for all ages and skill levels, returns on February 10 to Newport.

The event marks the fifth consecutive year of the Games, which take place on the ice and in the water of beautiful Lake Memphremagog.

This year’s winter Kingdom Games include:

Memphremagog Women’s Pond Hockey Tournament on Feb. 10-11

Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival on Feb. 24-25

Memphremagog Ice Skating Festival on March 3-4

“Kingdom Games are high-level athletic events, challenging to the very best endurance athletes and accessible to all, young and old, experienced or novice,” said director Phil White.

In addition to hockey, swimming, and skating during the winter months, Kingdom Games also offers acclaimed running, cycling and open-water swimming competitions during the warmer months.

All events take place in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, on its roads and legendary lakes, drawing participants from the United States, Canada, Europe, and India.

“The Games take advantage of some spectacular venues in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont,” White added. “Our community of staff and volunteers bring a sense of joy and celebration of these sports to our participants, and their friends and family who come with them.”

For more information, visit http://kingdomgames.co/

Vermont’s Free Ice Fishing Day is January 27

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Vermont’s fifth annual Free Ice Fishing Day is set for Saturday, January 27, and will be celebrated by a fun-filled ice fishing festival in Castleton.

Vermont’s Free Ice Fishing Day, which takes place each year on the last Saturday in January, enables both residents and non-residents to go ice fishing on any legal waterbody in Vermont for the day without a license.

“Free ice fishing day creates opportunities for a range of anglers, and really helps to showcase the great ice fishing we have here in Vermont,” said Louis Porter, commissioner of Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “From those looking to try out the sport for the first time, to non-residents who may want to sample some of Vermont’s quality fisheries, the day offers full accessibility to great ice fishing fun across Vermont.”

Vermont’s Ice Fishing Festival also occurs annually in concert with Free Ice Fishing Day, and the 2018 celebration will be held at Lake Bomoseen State Park in Castleton.

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on January 27 and is free and open to anyone interested in ice fishing.

Staff from Vermont Fish & Wildlife and instructors from the Let’s Go Fishing Program will be on hand to teach ice fishing basics including knot tying, drilling holes, rigging and using an ice fishing rod, setting tip-ups and preparing for a day on the ice. Fishing regulations and fish identification will be covered as well.

Fisheries biologists will also operate a fish fry station to cook up participants’ catches, and there will be other refreshments on hand including plenty of hot cocoa in the warming huts. Lake Bomoseen State Park also offers opportunities for ice skating, and a playground for the kids.

“The ice fishing festival is a free, easy and fun way for newcomers to get started in ice fishing, and also a great opportunity for kids and families to enjoy time together outdoors,” said Nicole Meier, information and education specialist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “We encourage people of all ages to come out for the day, wet a line, try some fresh-cooked, local fish and enjoy all that Vermont has to offer during the winter.”

Vermont Fish & Wildlife will lend ice fishing equipment to attendees for the day, but participants may bring their own tackle if they wish. Participants are advised to dress warmly and wear ice cleats if possible.

Pre-registration is encouraged but not required, and can be completed online at www.vtfishandwildlife.com. For more information, contact Nicole Meier at 802-318-1347 or nicole.meier@vermont.gov.

Ski trails expand onto Bluffside Farm

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — The Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation’s (MSTF) ski trail system has expanded onto Bluffside Farm in Newport City.

The new trail loop extends from the groomed Beebe Spur Rail Trail, and will be maintained by MSTF thanks to Mike Desmarais of GETSNO Equipment, who donated the use of a snow groomer.

“It is a nice beginner to intermediate terrain, and I think people will really enjoy it,” said MSTF Board member Louise Whipple.

The groomed trail system, including the rail trail and Primeau trails in Derby, is now over 24 miles long.

The public is welcome to use the Bluffside Farm trails, which are made possible by volunteer efforts, contributions from MSTF trail users and many generous landowners.

All are invited to tour MSTF trails for free at an open house on Saturday, December 30 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Parking will be available at 3892 Darling Hill in Newport.

Vermont Land Trust, a non-profit, membership-based land conservation organization, bought the 129-acre Bluffside Farm in late 2015.

Ever since, they have been working with the community to re-imagine the farm through a series of public meetings and tours.

Expanding recreation was a clear priority that came out of these discussions.

“We are so excited about what’s possible at the farm, given its size and location,” said VLT’s Tracy Zschau. “We are really starting to see how we can use the land to connect and expand recreation paths in ways that benefit local users while also drawing visitors to Newport City.”

Vermont Land Trust has joined with the City and Newport City Renaissance Corporation on an ambitious proposal to create a one-mile, multi-use path on the farm that would connect the popular Beebe Spur Rail Trail to the downtown via a bridge between the farm and the Prouty Beach Recreation Area. This is one of several efforts to improve and expand lake access and recreation.

This past fall, Pomerleau Real Estate began work on a new path section along the lake in front of Waterfront Plaza.

“When the connections are complete, there will be a seven-mile waterfront recreation corridor that connects downtown Newport along Lake Memphremagog to the Canadian border and the trails that extend into Canada,” added Tracy.

This winter’s groomed ski trail does not follow the exact path of the future bike trail because there is no way to get to Prouty Beach yet, but it demonstrates what is possible.

“The addition of the Bluffside Farm trails expands the range and diversity of the MSTF experience,” said Rob Long, an MSTF volunteer from Derby. “We’re very excited to see this improvement to our unique blend of forest, field, and lakeshore skiing, now from Newport to the Canadian border.”

A grant of $425,000 for the recreation path came from the Northern Borders Regional Commission in August. VLT is working with several partners to raise the full amount of money needed for the path and bridge, estimated at $1.2 million, through federal, state and private grants by the fall of 2018.

Vermont Land Trust has made the entire farm open for pedestrian use. In the summer months, when the fields are actively farmed and bald eagles are nesting, fewer trails are open.

The small parking area near the Bluffside sugarhouse, at the intersection of Bluff Road and Scott Farm Road, is also being kept open by MSTF for winter-time visitors to the farm.

Orleans County snowmobile clubs contribute thousands to local economy

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Six snowmobile clubs in Orleans County have received grant money from the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) for the purpose of maintaining and relocating snowmobile trails.

Multiple construction projects were completed throughout the county this summer in order to maintain Orleans County’s connection to the states 4,700-mile statewide trail system.

The projects were completed in the towns of Derby, Holland, Morgan, Newport City, Coventry, Jay, Troy, Westfield, Lowell, Albany, Glover, Barton, Orleans, Evansville, and Westmore.

Projects consisted of bridge rebuilds and rehabilitation, trail surface repair and re-ditching, debrushing, and maintenance of existing town trails and class 4 roads.

In total, over $70,000 dollars were spent throughout Orleans County to hire local construction companies and purchase lumber and hardware through local merchants.

A majority of the work completed was done by local hard-working volunteers in order to complete it the most cost-effective way possible.

The Orleans County Snowmobile Association is made up of the Country Riders Snowmobile Club in Jay, Craftsbury Snowmobile Club, Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club in Derby, Glover Trail Winders, Hazen’s Notch Snowmobile Club in Lowell, North Country Mountaineers in Coventry, and Orleans Snowstormers.

The members of the Orleans County Snowmobile Association are also members of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers.

Snowmobiling contributes 500 million dollars to Vermont’s economy each year with much of that ending up in the Northeast Kingdom.

Snowmobile safety course taking place at North Country Hospital

in Newport/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — On Saturday, December 9, a snowmobile safety course will be offered at North Country Hospital.

For anyone born after July 1, 1983, this course is required to ride on VAST trails.

Vermont State Police certified instructor Roger Gosselin will lead the course.

The cost is two food items to be donated to the local food shelf, and lunch will be provided to students.

The course will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the conference room at the hospital.

If you are interested, organizers say to be sure to register by December 4.

You can register by calling (802) 274-4502, or send an e-mail to orleanscountysnowmobilers@gmail.com, or kdicarlo@nchsi.org.

Dan Kilborn to receive George Buzzell Forest Stewardship Award

in Charleston/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

CHARLESTON — NorthWoods Stewardship Center recently announced Vermont Land Trust forester Dan Kilborn as the recipient of the fifth 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 NEK forests.

As the VLT forester for the Northeast Kingdom, Kilborn is a gifted communicator who understands that good management comes from a strong connection to the land and works daily to educate landowners and the public in the latest forestry ideas and best practices.

An award ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center on Wednesday, November 15.

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, encouraging education and inviting the widest community into the conversation and practice of forestry.

With this award, NorthWoods honors the outstanding contributions of George Buzzell and recognizes others who are carrying the torch of forest stewardship in the Northeast Kingdom.

Vermont’s rifle deer season starts next Saturday

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Hunters are gearing up for the start of the traditionally popular 16-day rifle deer season that begins Saturday, November 11 and ends Sunday, November 26.

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.

“Vermont’s pre-hunt deer population is estimated at approximately 157,000 this year with the greatest numbers of deer found in the southwest, east-central, 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, costs $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.

Biologists are collecting middle incisor teeth from November season deer in order to evaluate regional differences in ages and antler characteristics of bucks as well as to help estimate population size, growth rate, health, and mortality rates.

Each tooth will be cross-sectioned to accurately determine the deer’s age, and the results will be posted on the Fish & Wildlife website next spring.

Locals win at Fly to Pie marathon and bike race

in Arts and Entertainment/Brownington/coventry/Glover/Newport/News/Outdoors

GLOVER — A 52-year-old athlete from Canaan defended home turf and won the fourth annual Fly to Pie, Kingdom Marathon with a time of 3:05:11.

David Herr, 52, of Canaan, took home first this year. He has run in all four marathons and is a three-time winner.

Winning among the women was Karen Benway, 45, of Williston, with a time of 3:50:25.

The vista riddled course is run on dirt roads through “the gut” of the Northeast Kingdom, from the airport in Coventry through Brownington, over Barton Mountain, through Barton, over Burton Hill into Irasburg, and back to Parker Pie in West Glover.

It is described by many as the most beautiful and toughest road marathon in the east.

Winning the 26.2 mile bike race, Doin’ the Dirt, were locals Chad Harden, 42 of Newport Center, and Tamsin Durand, 40, of Derby.

The run, bike, walk, was held on Sunday, October 8. Fall foliage was at its peak. The weather was warm, and the mix of sun, rain, and wind added to the excitement of the day.

Runners, bikers, and walkers who participated in this year’s Fly to Pie ranged in age from 7-year-old Jonah Matte of Barton, to 75-year-old Newton Baker, of Montpelier, running the marathon for the fourth straight year.

Participants came from California, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Montreal, Magog, and Sherbrook, Quebec.

The event raised $815 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

Subway in Orleans robbed at gunpoint

in Newport/News/Outdoors

ORLEANS — The Subway in Orleans was robbed at gunpoint last night.

At around 9:00 p.m. a masked individual entered the restaurant, located at 25 Railroad Avenue.

Police say the suspect approached the clerk, displayed a gun and demanded money. The individual made off with an unknown amount of cash.

The robber was described as being approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a stocky build and was wearing camouflage coveralls with a dark-colored hood.

A camouflage bandana was covering the individual’s face.

The robber left Subway on foot and traveled in an unknown direction.

Police say nobody was injured during the robbery, and anyone with information in the case is being asked to call the State Police at 802-748-3111.

Westmore Mountain Challange offers marathon-length hike

in News/Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — On Saturday, October 14, the NorthWoods Stewardship Center will be hosting a marathon-length hiking event through the Northeast Kingdom.

The Westmore Mountain Challenge is a one-day hike traversing 26 miles of trail from Westmore to East Charleston.

Participants will hike Moose Mountain, Mount Hor, Mount Pisgah, Haystack Mountain and Bald Mountain, before finishing up at NorthWoods Stewardship Center.

Organizers say that participant response to the event has been huge, and with almost 120 participants taking part, the trails will be full.

Hikers can choose from a series of different hike lengths before shuttling back to NorthWoods’ East Charleston campus for a hearty dinner, prizes, and presentation by Pavel Cenkl on his recent Arctic Run.

Funds from the event will go towards NorthWoods’ conservation and education programs.

The NorthWoods Conservation Corps employs youth crews each summer to help build and maintain hiking trails in the region, including all of those traversed during the Challenge.

Jay gears up for second annual Oktoberfest celebration

in Arts and Entertainment/Jay/Outdoors

JAY — The town of Jay Community Recreational Centre and the Jay Focus Group are teaming up to bring on the fun at Jay Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 7.

Activities begin with a Pumpkin Pi(e) 3.14-kilometer race at the Jay Community Recreational Centre.

“This will be a wonderful celebration of fall,” said Peggy Loux, Jay Focus Group and select board member.

Registration is at 8:30 a.m., and the race start is at 9. Other activities include a pumpkin carving and decorating contest, as well as a chili-cooking contest.

From 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., kids and adults alike can play Oktoberfest games in downtown Jay, including pumpkin and gourd bowling, crabapple chip and putt, apple croquet, cornhole, candy corn toss, apple flingshot, small pumpkin launchers, and pumpkin trebuchet to name a few.

Lynx Mountain Guides will provide a Tyrolean adventure from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All activities are in downtown Jay and games require tickets, which will be available for purchase at the event. There will also be over 20 vendors on site to show their wares.

The Jay Village Inn is hosting the band Neighbors Hate Us from 1 to 4 p.m. Oktoberfest food and drink specials will be on the menu.

Contest winners will be announced during the music in the afternoon.

Proceeds from the event go towards trail development and maintenance at the Jay Community Recreational Centre.

For more information, go to jayvt.com, or .

Fly to Pie and Kingdom Games to support American Red Cross disaster relief

in Arts and Entertainment/coventry/Glover/Outdoors

WEST GLOVER — On Sunday, October 8, Fly to Pie’s 6-mile run, bike, or hike from Irasburg to West Glover will be dedicated to supporting the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

The $25 fee for the walk, run, or bike will be dedicated in its entirety to the Red Cross.

Parker Pie is offering up all the pizza you can eat, with Hill Farmstead beer on tap. Music will be provided by Hardwick Granite.

Fly to Pie also offers 13.5, 17, and 26.2-mile distances for running and biking on dirt roads through “the gut” of the Northeast Kingdom, starting at Lakeview Aviation in Coventry and also ending at Parker Pie.

Normally, Kingdom Games donates a portion of its proceeds to local charities. However, organizers say this year it seems the right thing to do to support recovery efforts in Florida and Texas.

Runners and bikers are coming from California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and around Vermont to savor the fall foliage, fine pizza, excellent beer on tap, and great music.

Online registration for all courses is open at www.kingdommarathon.com.

Bluffside Farm in Newport hunting lottery announced

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Following last year’s successful first hunting season on Bluffside Farm in Newport, the Vermont Land Trust has decided to hold a lottery for hunting on the property again this year.

The land trust plans to issue permission for deer hunting at Bluffside during two periods: October 21 to November 3, and November 11 to 26.

The first period falls in the last two weeks of the archery season and all hunting rules apply. Although the second period coincides with the Vermont rifle season, no firearms are allowed and hunting will be archery only because of Newport City ordinance.

Only legal bucks can be harvested.

These dates are the only time during which hunting will be permitted. Any hunters on the property will need to carry written permission from the Vermont Land Trust and can hunt only in the designated portions of the property away from neighboring houses.

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

Everyone should be aware that hunters may be present at this time. There will be posted notices in the parking lot.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this hunting opportunity, contact Dan Kilborn of VLT at (802) 745-6303 or dan@vlt.org for more information or to request a hard copy of the application.

Applications can also be downloaded at www.vlt.org/bluffsidefarm.

Applications must be sent to the Vermont Land Trust by September 30, to be considered in the lottery.

  • Willoughby-1-2.jpg
    Photo by Phil White.
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    Photo by Phil White.
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    Photo by Phil White.

NEK Swim Week Willoughby style

in Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — The Rivard sisters continued to make a splash during NEK Swim Week, with 13-year-old Vera Rivard of Springfield, NH, finished in a tie for first place overall with Charlotte Brynn, 51, of Stowe.

Both swimmers posted times of 2:21:16 for the five-mile swim.

Younger sister, 10-year-old Margaret Rivard, finished third among the women with a time of 2:28:29, just ahead of Cindy Werhane of Portland, OR. Last year, Margaret became the youngest to swim the length of Willoughby.

Florin Rosca, 47, of Carlisle, MA finished first with a time of 2:42:00.

Bob Singer came in second with a time of 2:58:02.

In addition to woodals, beef jerky, and Couture’s Maple Syrup, the winners received a six pack of ski tickets at Burke Mountain.

The weather was cloudy, rainy and windy at the start, inviting many to don their wetsuits.

As he has done in every swim of the week, Kevin Sullivan, 56, of Chelmsford, MA finished first in the wetsuit division and first overall, with an impressive time of 2:04:50.

Winning among wetsuited women was Eileen Hee, 45 of Wooster. Her time of 2:36:19 narrowly edged out Margaret Haskins, 59, of Morrisville, whose time was 2:36:44.

Westmore Fire and Rescue provided support throughout the five-mile swim.

Other big news of the day kept patrol boats out on the lake for another few hours, as five swimmers decided to double-cross Willoughby. Charlotte Brynn, 51, of Stowe (4:59:59), Vera Rivard, 13, of Springfield, NH (5:05:32), Cindy Werhane, 48, Portland OR (5:22:12) David Tutchener, 36, Burlington, (4:56:54) and Cat Spina, 37, Hilo, HI (6:06:06).

There are only three other known double-crossings of Lake Willoughby. In 2012, Shannon House Keegan finished her five-mile swim, had a burger and visited with friends, and then swam back the extra five miles. Last year, Janet Harris of New York, NY double crossed in misty, rainy conditions on the Friday before swim week.

Vera Rivard became the youngest to double-cross, adding another gold star to her extraordinary 2017 swim season.

Willoughby wins bid for 2019 long-distance swim championship

in Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — Kingdom Games and the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association has won the bid to host the 2019 United States Masters Swimming Long Distance National Championship to be held on August 16 and 17, 2019.

Organizers anticipate 100 swimmers and 100 kayakers will be drawn to Lake Willoughby from around the United States and Canada.

“We are pleased to partner with USMS to host these national championships,” said Phil White, director of Kingdom Games.

The event will be a great opportunity to showcase this majestic, pristine lake.

Lake Willoughby will also be a venue for the upcoming NEK Swim Week on August 12 through August 20., with the Willoughby Swim on August 19.

Last year, Lake Memphremagog was the venue for the 10 Mile USMS Long Distance National Championship.

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    Photo by Phil White.

Kingdom Swim 2017 welcomes swimmers from all over the Americas

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Over the weekend, Lake Memphremagog welcomed open water swimmers and “yackers” to the 9th Annual Kingdom Swim.

They came from 25 different states, two Canadian provinces, and Argentina, with ages ranging from 10 to 74.

This year’s swim was underwritten by North Country Hospital.

Sandra Frimerman-Berquist, age 34 of Excelsior, MN, smashed the record for the 25 km, Border Buster with a time of 5:49:55, leading a record number of 30 swimmers to complete the event.

Winning among the men was Stephen Rouch, 37, of Indianapolis, IN, who finished with a time of 6:25:48.

Stealing the show was 13-year-old, Vera Rivard, of Springfield, NH, who came in third among the females and fifth overall, with a time of 7:15:33. She is the youngest ever to complete the Border Buster.

The “most mature” to complete the Buster was Dan Shaub, 68, of Baltimore Maryland, with a time of 9:58:59. He and his local “yacker” Pam Ladds sported a combined age of 136.

The Busters headed out at 6:00 a.m. with mist rising from the lake after a cold night, but had the benefit of light tail winds from the south as they headed north and then from the north as they headed south back from Canada.

One of the purposes of this cross-border swim is to promote a more open border. This year everyone celebrated a change in Canadian rules that now coincides with US rules that you don’t need to report at the crossing if you don’t touch Canadian soil or a Canadian boat.

Taking home walking sticks, hand-carved by Bill Peck of Derby, in the WOWSA 10 Mile Championship were Anthony Szmul, 24, of Queensbury, NY (4:36:57) and Emily Boerger, 22 of Kingston, MA (4:47:54).

Margaret Rivard, age 10, of Springfield, NH, became the youngest to complete the 10-mile course which she did with a time of 5:50:12, placing her in the middle of the pack.

Eric Nilsson, 30, of Cambridge, MA, returned for another year, and claimed the crown as king of the 10 km with his blistering time of 2:03:34. Eric is one of the fastest swimmers to ply the waters of Lake Memphremagog .

Winning among the women was Rachel Horgan, 31, of Atkinson, NH, with a time of 2:23:56.

Kevin Jaubert, 45, of Towson, MD finished second. He’s one of two “lifers” who have swum in every single Kingdom Swim since it was started in 2009.

In the 5-km distance, it was a battle of east and west among the women, with Elizabeth Mancuso, 31, of Boston, MA, (1:09:49) fending off Ali Hall, 55, of San Francisco, CA (1:15:24).

Winning among the men was Lawton Harper, 50, of North Conway, NH, with a time of 1:23:13.

Laura Maliewski, 47, of Westmore, VT kept her streak alive as a “Lifer.”

In the 1-mile swim, Luke Nicholas, 14, of Mesa, AZ, gunned down Stephen Rouch, 37, of Indianapolis, IN, with a winning time of 0:19:28. But then, Stephen had just finished the Border Buster and was still hungry for one more mile in mighty Memphremagog before the day was done.

Luke’s dad, Kent Nicholas, narrowly missed the chance to swim the one-mile course with his son, completing the Border Buster in 8:25:15, just 25 minutes after the start of the 1 mile.

Among the females, Gayla Chalmers of Athens, GA, took first place with her time of 0:26:20.

Lilly Jaubert, 12, of Towson, MD won the miler among the female youth.

Winning in the ¼ was 10-year-old Claire Jaubert, of Towson, MD and Rex Lord, 11, of Bloomfield, NJ.

Prizes of Brault’s Beef Jerky and Couture’s Maple Syrup were offered up to the winners in each race, with jerky to the 2nd and third place finishers.

Music for the weekend was provided by Patti Casey and Tom Mackenzie on Friday evening, Kingdom Dixie and DJ Rena Demeo, during the swim, and by The Hitman at the Pig Roast and Party at Prouty after the swim.

[VIDEO] Welcome to the beautiful Newport Country Club

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/Outdoors

The beautiful Newport Country Club features an 18-hole, par 72 golf course that overlooks Lake Memphremagog to its north, as well as scenic views of Jay Peak and Willoughby Gap to its west and south.

The course accomplishes the rare feat of challenging serious golfers while offering a relaxed atmosphere that
allows all skill levels the ability to learn this classic game.

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    Photo by Arik Thormahlen.
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    Photo by Phil White.

New York woman swims the length of Lake Memphremagog

in Newport/News/Outdoors/Stanstead

NEWPORT — On Monday, Jaimie Monahan, of New York, NY, swam the 25-mile distance on Lake Memphremagog between Newport, Vermont, and Magog, Quebec in 14 hours and 18 minutes.

She left the Newport City Dock at 5:53 a.m. under cloudy skies and arrived in Magog as the sun was setting at 8:11 p.m.

Winds were light and rain was heavy at times, but the threat of a thunderstorm never materialized. Water temperature ranged from 70 to 71 F.

Arik Thormahlen, also of New York, crewed for her. Phil White of Kingdom Games piloted the wooden dory, Django, and made the arrangements for pre-authorization of her clearance across the international border into Canada.

Monahan is a world renowned ultra-marathon swimmer, a world champion winter swimmer, and an accomplished ice swimmer. She won the 2016 Barra Award for Best Overall Year by the Marathon Swimmers Federation and the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year award from the World Open Water Swimming Association.

She is the first person to complete the Ice Seven Challenge, swimming a mile in sub 5 C water on all seven continents, the final swim being in Argentina on July 2nd, 2017. She has swum in the Memphremagog Winter Swim in 2015 and 2016. This is the first time she has swum in Vermont during the summer.

Monahan’s swim kicks off what is scheduled to be a record-breaking number of border-busting swims on Lake Memphremagog during this summer season.

Charlotte Brynn of Stowe is the next up with an individual solo attempt the length of the lake on July 17.

On July 29, 39 swimmers are signed up for the 25 km swim from Newport into Canada, around Province Island and back to Newport as part of Kingdom Swim.

Seven swimmers are signed on to swim the length of the lake in September.

Canadian and US border officials have helped facilitate these crossings.

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    Photo by Phil White.

Open water swimming season underway in the Northeast Kingdom

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Thirteen open water swimmers participated in this year’s “Son of a Swim,” as the open water swimming season gets underway in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Vera Rivard, 13, of Springfield, New Hampshire, and Derby, led the pack on Lake Memphremagog, completing the 6-mile distance in 2:45:29.

Her younger sister, Margaret, age 10, just back from a broken arm, completed the 2-mile swim in 1:05:12.

Scott Machinist, 37, of Island Pond, posted 1:49:30 in the 4-mile distance.

Water temperatures were 67 degrees. Skies were cloudy, with some scattered rain showers throughout the day.

Upcoming events hosted by Kingdom Games and the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association will be Kingdom Swim, on July 29, NEK Swim Week on August 12 through 20, and In Search of Memphre on September 11.

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    All photos by Phil White.
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Local riders win the Moose

in Derby/Newport/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Randy Durivage and Laurie Durivage of Derby, defended home turf and won this year’s Moose, a 103 mile “timed event” that runs through Caledonia and Essex Counties.

Randy Durivage, 54, shared the title of King of the Moose with Julian Grijns, 42, of Westport, CT, both finishing with a time of 5 hours 33 minutes and 30 seconds.

Laurie Durivage claimed her title as Queen of the Moose with a time of 5 hours, 50 minutes and 55 seconds.

The Moose starts at Mike’s Tiki Bar in East Burke. Cyclists have to tap the bar at the finish. It runs up Route 114 to Island Pond, Norton, and Canaan, Down the Connecticut River on Route 102, back to Island Pond on Route 105, and down to East Burke on Route 114.

Second and third among the women were Fran Plaisted, 53, of Orford, NH (6:07:50) and Carrie Nourjian, 64, of Stowe, (6:08:23).

Tied for third place among the men were Jake McLoughlin, 27, of Lyme, NH, Michael Fogg, 57 of Norwich, and Benjamin Williams, 43, of Thetford, all with times of 5:57:53.

Each of the male and female winners claimed a 6 pack of day tickets to Burke Mountain, a quart of Couture’s Maple Syrup, and a half pound of Brault’s beef jerky.

This year, seven teams competed in the Team Challenge, KVG, Upper Valley Velo, Team Ottawa, Flatlanders, Vermonters, Onion River Sports and Burke Mountain Academy.

The Upper Valley Velo narrowly edged out KVG.

The Moose is one of the three days of riding in the June Tour de Kingdom, which also includes a guided ride around Lake Memphremagog on Friday and a Lake Region ride on Sunday.

About 50 cyclists participated in the weekend, traveling from Ontario, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and all around Vermont.

Introducing Diane McHeffey, Golf Pro at Newport Country Club

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/Outdoors

Diane McHeffey is the new Golf Pro at the beautiful Newport Country Club.

In this interview, McHeffey talks with Tanya Mueller about her career in golf, as well as all the opportunities for golfers of all ages this year.

For more information on this season at the Newport Country Club, CLICK HERE.

Locals reminded to be mindful of ticks when venturing outdoors

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — As more Vermonters venture outside to enjoy warming weather, state officials are reminding hikers, hunters, and others to be tick smart while fishing, turkey hunting, or watching birds.

According to researchers at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., the month of May is heralding a particularly risky year for Lyme disease and other tickborne illnesses. And the Vermont Department of Health reports that annual cases of Lyme disease continue to rise in Vermont.

“Many activities that Vermonters engage in this time of year can put them in the path of disease-carrying ticks,” said Tom Rogers of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “Spending time wading through high grass and brush, or sitting still along the edges of fields and forests, you can easily pick up a tick. Gardeners and landscapers also spend time working along forest edges, mowing grass, or cutting brush, where ticks are common.”

A few simple precautions can help reduce your risk of tick bites and make your time outdoors more rewarding, Rogers notes. He suggests when going outside for an extended time that residents follow these tips:

REPEL: Before you go outside, apply an EPA-registered insect repellent on your skin and treat your clothes with permethrin. When possible, wear light-colored long sleeved shirts and long pants, and tuck your pants into your socks to keep ticks from your skin.

INSPECT: Do daily tick checks on yourself, your children and pets.

REMOVE: Remove ticks right away. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has also been proven effective in washing ticks off the skin before they attach. Put clothing in the dryer on hot heat for 10 minutes to kill remaining ticks.

WATCH: If you were bitten by a tick, watch for signs of disease during the weeks following the bite. Call your health care provider if you experience symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, fatigue, or joint pain.

9th Annual Dandelion Run to be held May 20

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby/Holland/Morgan/Newport/News/Outdoors

DERBY — The Dandelion Run is back on May 20, 2017. The run offers varying distances from one mile to a half marathon on dirt roads through the “world famous” dandelion fields of Morgan, Holland, and Derby.

It’s held in honor and memory of Terri Weed, a 15-year-old girl who tragically lost her life due to domestic violence on May 21, 1981.

For each adult registration, 20 percent will be donated to support Umbrella and its advocacy and support of victims of violence.

“The Dandy” is held in conjunction with the Dandelion Fiddlefest celebrating “High Spring” in the Northeast Kingdom, a time when the dandelions are at their peak.

As in previous years, Reckless Breakfast, a contemporary bluegrass band will be playing at the corner of Dumas and Hayward Hollow Roads.

Champion master fiddler, Scott Campbell will be playing at Route 111 and the North Gore Road. Patti Casey of Montpelier will be back at the corner of Route 111 and Dumas Road. Courtney Drew, an 18-year-old fiddler from Quebec, will be playing at the one mile turnaround.

Rick Geisel, Don Houghton, and Terri Churchill will be playing at other locations along the course.

The running and walking options include a 13.1 mile, 10 km, 4 mile, 2 mile and 1 mile. The ages of runners and walkers typically range from 4 years old to 80 years old. Each year many local schools field teams of young runners.

Last year, Community National Bank helped organize the first 4 mile walk, which was very popular and which we expect will grow.

The bank’s Community Circle members put on their walking shoes and enjoyed the event festivities with the other “Dandy” participants from many other states.

The Dandy is widely recognized as one of the top running races in Vermont. It has been featured several times in Vermont Sports Magazine and was named one of the best events in Vermont by Yankee Magazine in 2011.

Already runners have been signing up from California, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, all over Vermont, The Eastern Townships of Quebec, Quebec City, Montreal, and Ontario.

Online registration is open at www.dandelionrun.org.

Steelhead runs happening now in Orleans, Coventry

in coventry/Orleans/Outdoors

ORLEANS — One of the state’s premier wildlife watching opportunities is happening right now in Orleans. The steelhead rainbow trout have started their upstream migration, leaping up waterfalls in a spectacular display of determination on their way to their spawning grounds.

The best place to spot steelhead is at Willoughby Falls just outside downtown Orleans. Another great place to see migrating steelhead is Coventry Falls on the Black River in Coventry.

“When people think of wildlife watching, they typically think of moose or birds, but I would guess that most people don’t think of fish,” said Jud Kratzer, fisheries biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “This is a rare opportunity to watch fish in nature. Images of salmon or trout hurling themselves up scenic waterfalls are typical from places like Alaska, but many people may not realize we have these same wildlife viewing opportunities right here in Vermont.”

Steelhead can be spotted moving up the falls during warmer days in mid to late April and sometimes into early May during years with late winters. The best times to spot the fish leaping the falls are in the late morning and early afternoon as the sun is hitting the waters.

Willoughby Falls and a section of river upstream are closed to fishing until June 1 to protect the fish while they are spawning, although there are great fishing opportunities a short way downstream from the falls.

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    Ms. Damsell surveying planting surviorship at a Riparian Restoration Project along the Black River in Craftsbury. In 2016 the Orleans County Conservation District completed planting projects on over ½ mile, with 1,000 trees planted to restore riparian forest along the Black River.

Damsell leads Orleans County Conservation District

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Sarah Damsell marks her first year as the new District Manager of the Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District.

Damsell comes to the Conservation District after working as an Agriculture Resource Specialist for the Vermont Association Conservation Districts for three years and the Conservation District Manager in Essex County for over two years.

She brings a passion for conservation coupled with a deep understanding of current agricultural and land use challenges. Her background working in the conservation field, vegetable and dairy farms, and for seven years as an Organic Farm Inspector for the National Organic Farm Association of Vermont, provides her with the intimate knowledge to engage with local farmers and landowners, understand their challenges, and aid them in completing conservation projects on their land with a key goal of improving water quality.

Over the last year, Damsell began working with a variety of partners to reduce nutrient runoff into Lake Memphremagog, as part of a Regional Conservation Project working with the State of Vermont and a variety of local partners. This work is funded through a federal grant and includes working with local farmers to develop conservation and nutrient management plans, and helping farmers access funds to implement projects to reduce nutrient runoff and erosion.

She is also organizing an areaway rental program used to reduce soil compaction while increasing soil health and improving water and nutrient filtration.

In 2016, the areaway rental program was used on 947 acres in Orleans County.

Damsell’s work does not stop with farms, as she also is working with the towns of Derby and Coventry to complete road erosion and structure inventories to better understand how to improve municipal road infrastructure to reduce runoff into our waterways. She has also been working in the forests, planting trees along the Black River in Craftsbury to restore riparian habitat and re-connect wildlife travel corridors along the river, as well as organizing a portable skidder bridge rental program to help local loggers minimize runoff into waterways while working in the woods.

Her work in 2017 will continue much of the work of the past year, striving to assist local landowners in conservation our natural resources. This spring, the Conservation District will also be offering a tree and shrub sale to landowners, where trees and native shrubs can be purchased for spring wildlife and conservation planting.

In addition, in May the Conservation District is hosting Conservation Field Day for local 4th & 5th graders at the Randall farm in Troy.

In Orleans County, the Conservation District operates as a local non-profit with close affiliations with both state and federal agencies, creating the unique position to effectively connect farmers, municipalities, state agencies, local schools, and landowners across the county.

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Locals enjoy a perfect day of cross country skiing on the MSTF trails

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — On Saturday, local kids and adults gathered to enjoy a day of cross country skiing on the local Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation (MSTF) trails.

Owen Tatum and a team of local groomers had the trails in perfect condition for the event.

The North Country High School Cross Country Ski Team was there to run the ski tour for the youth and then present lollipops and ribbons to all the participants.

Adults had the choice of a 10K or 20K tour that included the upper trails to the east of Darling Hill and the western trails on the shores of Lake Memphremagog.

The views were fantastic and the snow was just right for all level of skiing.

MSTF volunteers Faye and Rob Long set up a drink and snack station at the Ridgehill Crossing so participants were greeted with smiles, encouragement, and nourishment.

“We have great resources right here in our own backyard so by hosting these kinds of events we hope more individuals and families will join MSTF and take advantage of the trails,” Anthony Moccia, President of MSTF, said.

Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation is a non-profit organization, run by volunteers, that aims to create and promote a system of well-maintained and easily accessible cross country ski trails for all ages and all abilities.

These beautiful trails can be accessed off the bike path or off Darling Hill Road where there is dedicated parking below the big green barn at 3892 Darling Hill.

More trail and ski rental information is available at their website, mstf.net.

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