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    Louise Whipple, who will lead the Moonlight Snowshoe, enjoys the MSTF trails.

Moonlight snowshoe event led by Louise Whipple this Saturday

in Newport/Outdoors

NEWPORT — In an effort to expand the use of our local trails, community member, and outdoor sports enthusiast Louise Whipple, will be leading a Moonlight Snowshoe on February 11 at 6:00 p.m.

The event, which is open to everyone, should make for a great family activity, or way to make new friends.

“Louise’s love for all things outdoor is infectious,” Dawn Buker, who recently had the chance to enjoy the MSTF trails with Louise, said. “Her manner is kind, caring, attentive and relaxed.”

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.

Don’t have skis? MSTF provides rentals every Saturday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the green barn. They are available for seasonal rental or by the day.

If you’re new to the sport, renting for the day is a great way to see just how much fun nordic skiing can be.

MSTF trails provide a natural playground for members with a strong emphasis on nurturing the love of outdoor activities in our youth. The trails vary from railroad flat to precipitous with skate and classic machine grooming on the core network.

For membership, trail information and event schedules, visit mstf.net.

For more information about Louise’s private guided tours or “Take Your Workout Outside” programs, also refer to the website.

So join in on the fun, February 11, and enjoy the full moon and beautiful trails.

For more information contact Beth at mstfnek@gmail.com.

Ice skating and winter swimming on Lake Memphremagog

in Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — The ice is getting thick on Lake Memphremagog and the crew at Kingdom Games are hard at it gearing up for ice skating and winter swimming events to take place in February and March.

As in previous years, as weather and ice conditions permit, they will be clearing and maintaining a skating rink, a 1 km ice skating oval, and a skating trail north into Derby Bay and all the way to the border.

These lanes will be free and open to the public through the month of February. Daily ice reports are posted at the Memphremagog Ice Skating Club’s Facebook page.

Then on February 18, 19, and 20, Kingdom Games is hosting the Fourth Annual Memphremagog Ice Skating Festival.

It starts with 1 km and 5 km races that are free, open to the public, and great for kids and newcomers to the sport. Jaimie Hess of Nordicskater.com will be providing free Nordic skates for anyone who wants to try them out during the festival.

Saturday afternoon, they will host a 21 km speedskating race, and Sunday will see a 42 km speedskating race on the oval.

On Monday, Kingdom Games will be hosting an expedition-adventure skate on a cleared skating trail as far north as weather and ice conditions permit. The fee is $35 for each day or $90 for all three.

Speedskaters are already signing up from New York, Boston, Quebec City, and Ottawa.

This year organizers say they are looking to encourage youth and newcomers to try out the 1 km and 5 km races on Saturday morning, just for the fun of it.

On March 4 and 5, 2017, watch for the Third Annual Memphremagog Winter Swim Fest, when a 25 meter, two-lane swimming pool will be cut into the ice. Water temperatures are expected to be about 30 degrees.

Dozens of winter swimmers have already signed up from California, Washington State, Illinois, Ontario, Quebec, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

Online registration for all events is open at www.kingdomgames.co

For more information, contact Phil White, Director of Kingdom Games at phw1948@gmail.com

Helicopters to be used this week to collar moose in Essex County

in Essex County/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Essex County residents may soon see a helicopter flying low overhead as the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department begins collaring up to 60 moose for a three-year study.

The radio-collaring will be carried out primarily within Essex County, and should start this week, depending on weather conditions.

Capture efforts require flying just above tree height and are expected to take one to two weeks.

Wildlife experts with 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.

Department staff will track collared moose for several years using the GPS points gathered by the collars, and by 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 run through 2019.

“We have advised many of the larger landowners within the capture area, but we felt all Essex County citizens and landowners should be made aware of this activity,” said Cedric Alexander, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s lead moose biologist. “Moose 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.”

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    Pictured L-R (Dave Ladd, VAST Awards Committee Chairman; Ernest Choquette, Country Riders Snowmobile Club; Raymond Rodrigue, Orleans Snowstormers; Marshall Bowman, North Country Mountaineers; Merle Young, Glover Trailwinders; Roger Gosselin, VAST Orleans County Director.

Four local snowmobilers awarded for over 30 years of service to VAST

in Newport/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Four local snowmobilers were presented with the Trailblazer Award at the last Orleans County Snowmobile Association meeting in Newport Center.

The Trailblazer Award, presented by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), honors the grassroots spirit and dedication of the many people who have made snowmobiling what it is today, as they have freely given their time, hard work, and resources for over 25 years.

Those awarded were:

Ernest Choquette, with the Country Riders Snowmobile Club.
Raymond Rodrigue, with the Orleans Snowstormers.
Marshall Bowman, from North Country Mountaineers.
Merle Young, of the Glover Trailwinders.

Snowmobiling in Vermont has a rich history of volunteer participation. It all started with a few snowmobilers informally coming together to create and maintain trails and creating VAST, to what is done today to manage the Vermont Statewide Snowmobile Trail System.

As true “Trailblazers,” these four men have forged ahead and built the foundation of healthy and active clubs and counties, not to mention a trail system which is the envy of the Northeast.

For more information, contact Roger Gosselin, VAST Orleans County Director at (802) 274-4502.

Cliff tops and overlooks closed to protect nesting peregrines

in Lowell/Outdoors

LOWELL — Several cliff areas across the state are currently closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons, and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont are recommending hikers check to see if the area you’re planning to hike or climb in is open.

“Peregrine nesting is well underway this spring,” said John Buck, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department biologist. “The falcons are very sensitive to human presence, so we ask climbers and hikers to please maintain a respectful distance from all nests. These closures help people to choose an alternative route in advance.”

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department partners with Audubon Vermont to monitor the sites throughout the nesting season. These sites will remain closed until August 1 or until the department determines the risk to nesting falcons has passed.

Barnet Roadcut (Barnet) – Route 5 pullout closed
Bolton Notch (Bolton) – Upper west cliff closed to climbing
Bone Mountain (Bolton) – Portions of cliff closed to climbing
Deer Leap (Bristol) – Closed
Fairlee Palisades (Fairlee) – Cliff top closed
Hazen’s Notch (Lowell) – Cliff closed to climbing
Marshfield Mt (Marshfield) – Portions closed to climbing
Mt. Horrid (Goshen) – Great Cliff overlook closed
Nichols Ledge (Woodbury) – Cliff top closed
Rattlesnake Pt (Salisbury) – Cliff top closed
Snake Mountain (Addison) – Overlook south of pond closed
Table Mt (Manchester) – Closed

Additional sites may be added to the closed list if nesting falcons choose new sites.

“The areas closed include the portions of the cliffs where the birds are nesting and the trails leading to the cliff tops or overlooks,” said Buck. “In many cases the lower portions of the trails are still open, and we encourage people to get out with good binoculars or a scope to enjoy watching the birds from a distance. We will update the closure list as more nesting data are reported.”

Last year saw a record nesting season for Vermont’s peregrine falcons, with 67 young birds successfully growing up and leaving the nest.

The peregrine falcon was removed from the endangered species list in 2005 due in part to people respecting the falcon’s nesting period.

Vermonters reminded tick season underway

in News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Heath officials are reminding Vermonters that tick season is underway across the state.

A growing number of Vermonters are falling ill with diseases spread by ticks, such as Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. These tickborne diseases are preventable if you take action to stay safe while enjoying the outdoors now, and in the warmer months ahead.

“The black-legged tick causes over 99 percent of the tickborne diseases reported in Vermont,” said Bradley Tompkins, infectious disease epidemiologist at the Vermont Department of Health. “During the spring, ticks are active and looking to feed on people or their pets. The trouble is these ticks can be as small as a poppy seed right now, so we all need to be aware of the risks and take action to protect ourselves.”

The Health Department encourages Vermonters to follow these three simple steps to avoid tickborne diseases:

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 decrease access to you skin. Inspect yourself regularly when outside to catch any ticks before they attach.

INSPECT – Do daily tick checks on yourself, your children and pets. Check yourself from head to toe.

REMOVE – Remove ticks promptly. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has also been proven effective in preventing Lyme disease by washing ticks off the skin.

If you were bitten by a tick, watch for early signs of disease during the weeks following the bite. The first sign of Lyme disease is often an expanding red rash at the site of the tick bite.

The rash usually appears seven to 14 days after the tick bite, but sometimes it takes up to 30 days to appear. Not everyone gets the rash, so be on the lookout for additional symptoms of early Lyme disease, such as fatigue, headache, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint pain.

Early signs of anaplasmosis are fever, muscle pain and malaise. Both diseases can be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially if treatment is given early.

Get more tips and information for reducing your risk of tick bites, download tick-identification cards, see how to safely remove a tick, and read our booklet “Be Tick Smart,” at healthvermont.gov.

Vermonters warned not to feed bears

in Outdoors

ORLEANS — Vermont Fish & Wildlife wardens and biologists are receiving reports of hungry bears getting into trash containers as well as raiding bird feeders, beehives, and chicken houses.

“Human conflicts involving bears are increasing this spring,” said Chief Game Warden Jason Batchelder.

Vermont’s wardens say they are responding to events involving bears in search of easy calories, but, as with most wildlife conflicts, can be avoided by taking steps to secure food sources and making them inaccessible to hungry bears.

“People sometimes unintentionally encourage bears to come out of the forest by providing food,” says Forrest Hammond, Vermont’s bear biologist. “Once bears become used to these food sources and come into frequent human contact, people sometimes call them nuisance bears.”

Wardens say it is nearly impossible to relocate a nuisance bear. Unfortunately, they frequently have to be put down.

Some of the most common sources of food that attract bears are:

• Bird feeders
• Barbecue grills
• Garbage
• Household trash containers
• Open dumpsters
• Pet food and campsites with accessible food and food wastes

Purposely feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear, it’s also illegal in Vermont.

Vermont law also states that residents must take reasonable measures to protect their property from bears before lethal force can be taken. Some of these measures include:

• Keep chickens and honeybees secure within an electric fence or other bear-proof enclosure.
• Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally.
• Feed pets indoors.
• Do not feed birds April 1 through November 30.
• Store trash in a secure place. Trash cans alone are not bear-proof.

Steelhead Rainbow Trout runs are happening now at Willoughby Falls

in coventry/Orleans/Outdoors

ORLEANS — One of the state’s premier wildlife watching opportunities is happening right now in Vermont. 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 in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Other places to see migrating steelhead include Coventry Falls on the Black River in Coventry and Lewis Creek Falls in North Ferrisburgh, though Willoughby Falls remains the best viewing opportunity.

“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.

“Watching these fish move upstream is a great way for people to connect with nature,” said Kratzer. “But it’s also a powerful reminder of the importance of habitat for fish and other wildlife. Fish need places to spawn, to hide, and to feed, and they need access to these resources at the appropriate time. We’re looking to continue to conserve these resources so future generations can continue to witness this incredible fish migration each spring.”

North Country Hospital hosting “Bike Safety Rodeo” and ATV training for kids in April

in Health/Newport/Outdoors

NEWPORT — If you have kids, know kids or are a kid you’ll be interested to know that April is a busy month at North Country Hospital for activities that directly impact the safety of NEK children.

In an ongoing commitment to childhood injury prevention, the hospital is partnering with other organizations in order to highlight some of the ways our kids can stay safe while having a ton of fun pursuing their favorite outdoor activities.

On Saturday, April 16, North Country Hospital, in collaboration with Safe Kids Worldwide, the Village Bike Shop and community volunteers, will be hosting a Bike Rodeo from 9 a.m. – noon.

Kids of all ages are invited to bring their bikes and their helmets to the hospital parking lot on Prouty Drive and saddle up to practice riding skills and safety drills.

Kids will have a chance to maneuver through a slalom course, learn how to stop and go, how to look and listen and how to make sure their bikes are safe and ready to ride when they are.

After the rodeo, how about a ride down the bike path which is directly next to the hospital parking lot? The bike path is flat and wide and the perfect place to practice new skills and spend time with family and friends on the shores of Lake Memphremagog.

The Center for Disease Controls Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans says that children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. “By teaching kids safe bicycling and pedestrian skills we can help them become more independent and more active, while having fun,” said Beth Barnes, Community Outreach Specialist for North Country Hospital.

Helmets will be available at the Bike Rodeo for a donation of $10.00. For questions about the Bike Rodeo, contact Beth Barnes at bbarnes@nchsi.org or 802-334-3210 ext. 351.

For kids who like to ride on four wheels instead of two, North Country Hospital will be hosting a ½ day classroom ATV training course sponsored by VASA (Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association) on Saturday, April 23 from 9 a.m. – noon.

This free course which teaches safe and responsible ATV operation is a requirement for all kids aged 12-17.

The V.E.S.T. (VASA Education and Safety Training) ATV safety course will provide your child with the state-approved, required safety certificate so you will know your young ATV rider is a safe and certified rider.

To register for the V.E.S.T. training, please contact Dani Cady at dcady@vtvasa.org or call 802-477-5075.

NorthWoods to help landowners protect Memphremagog watershed

in Newport/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Increasing nutrient levels, sediment, and higher water temperatures are having a large impact on aquatic ecosystems within the Memphremagog Watershed.

Riparian buffers, the areas of vegetation immediately adjacent to any body of water, are nature’s way of preventing these imbalances.

Buffers provide shade, prevent erosion, and act as biofilters to reduce sediment and runoff from human activities.

Many streams, rivers, and lakes in Vermont are lacking riparian buffers, which compromises water quality. Lake Champlain has been in the news a lot recently, but Lake Memphremagog is facing similar issues.

While the benefits of buffers are clear, some landowners may have concerns about what is required to plant them.

For over a decade, NorthWoods Stewardship Center has assisted willing landowners to design and install riparian buffers and through a 2016-2017 Ecosystem Restoration Program Grant from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, they are again able to provide this assistance.

The program covers 80 percent of the cost of trees and other materials and 100 percent of labor costs.

Planting season is fast approaching, and sites will need to be confirmed as soon as possible for inclusion in the spring planting.

For more information or to sign up, contact Meghann Carter at meghann@northwoodscenter.org or by phone at 1-802-723-6551 ext. 302.

Keith Sherwood of Hinesburg with the state record yellow perch he caught while ice fishing on Caspian Lake in 2015.

All-time state record yellow perch caught in Greensboro

in Greensboro/Outdoors

GREENSBORO — The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has certified that an all-time state record yellow perch was caught in Greensboro.

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Vermont’s new record yellow perch, which weighed a massive 2.4 pounds, was caught by Keith Sherwood of Hinesburg while ice fishing on Caspian Lake.

The fish was 16 inches in length and had a girth of 12.5 inches. The fish topped the previous record of 2.1 pounds by over 4 ounces.
 
“2015 was another great year for record fish catches in Vermont,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “Anglers are really starting to understand the wide diversity of fishing opportunities we have throughout the state. Fishing in Vermont can go way beyond bass, trout and some of the other more commonly targeted species.”
 
New state records were also set in 2015 for redhorse sucker, cisco and bowfin.
 
“The Vermont Record Fish Program continues to serve as a testament to the health and quality of fisheries around the state,” said Good. 

Good says many record fish programs in other states only see new records established every few years. In Vermont, anglers have been setting multiple records each year. Since 2010, 16 new records have been recognized, which is an astounding number.

Scenes from Orleans County Vermont foliage 2015

in Arts and Entertainment/Outdoors

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This photo essay from foliage 2015 in Orleans County comes from local photographer Rick Desrochers. Rick is from Derby Line. He grew up loving photography and all the beauty this area has to offer. He is the founder of Northern Dreams Photography.

Here is the story of how “Northern Dreams Photography” came to be:

To dream of the direction of North symbolizes reality. It also indicates that you are making progress and moving forward in life. While living in Florida, I dreamt of the four seasons of the North, and “Northern Dreams Photography” was born, a dream that has become reality. At Northern Dreams Photography, it’s about capturing the simple things in life and the beauty of nature that we sometimes miss and take for granted. It’s about helping us to believe in our dreams of moving forward and anywhere that we can imagine.

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State tests mosquitoes for EEE and West Nile Virus

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Vermont has its fair share of flying insects, and mosquitoes seem to thrive here in the summer months. Mosquito surveillance, which includes the weekly collection and testing of specific types of mosquitoes, has begun across the state.

During the past few summers, mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WNV) have been found in Vermont. Results of mosquito testing will be updated on the Health Department website throughout the summer.

In 2014, there were eight mosquito pools that tested positive for WNV and eight more that tested positive for EEE virus. Human illness caused by mosquitoes is uncommon in the state, but in 2012, two people from Rutland County died from EEE. In 2013, two horses in Franklin County were infected and died.

People in these communities should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, but it is likely that EEE is present in other parts of the state, so all Vermonters are encouraged to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

The risk of mosquito-borne illness increases during the summer months, and persists until there is a hard frost in the fall. As the warm weather brings out the insects, the Health Department encourages Vermonters to enjoy outdoor activities while taking simple precautions to avoid bites.

Below is a list of precautions the Health Department recommends all Vermonters take:

Weather permitting, wear long sleeves and pants and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn – when mosquitoes are most active.

Reduce mosquito breeding habitats by getting rid of standing water. Drain areas where water can pool: rain gutters, wading pools and any other water-holding containers such as old tires.

If you are outside when mosquitoes are biting, use an effective insect repellent. Choose repellents that have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number on the label. This indicates that the product has been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

Protect your animals. Horses are susceptible to WNV and EEE infection, and there are effective vaccines available. Llamas, alpacas and emus are also susceptible and can be immunized with the horse vaccine.

Contact your health care provider if you have questions about your health or need medical attention.

Symptoms of WNV and EEE:

Most people who are infected with WNV will not become ill, and this may be true for EEE as well. Those who become ill with either WNV or EEE will have flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, joint and body aches.

Symptoms typically last one or two weeks, and recovery can be complete. However, both viruses have the potential to invade the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and cause more serious illness.

Symptoms of severe disease include fever, intense headache, weakness, poor coordination, irritability, drowsiness and mental status changes.

About one-third of people who develop severe EEE disease will die, and many who recover are left with disabilities. Fortunately, severe EEE is rare.

For more information on West Nile Virus and EEE, and to view EEE risk maps, maps showing towns with active mosquito surveillance, and to find out the latest surveillance results, visit healthvermont.gov.

Son of a Swim kicks off open water swimming season on Memphremagog

in Newport/Outdoors

NEWPORT — The Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association kicked off its summer season with the first round of Son of a Swim. Seven swimmers took to the waters of mighty Lake Memphremagog from Prouty Beach, swimming 2, 4, or 6 miles.

They travelled from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Stowe and Norwich to swim in 65 degree water and prepare for the swim season ahead.

The day was sunny and although it started out cold, it eventually warmed up. Wind from the south started at about 5 mph but rose to about 15 to 20 mph, giving swimmers the perfect opportunity to practice in some mild but decent chop.

Son of a Swim is intentionally small, capped at 10. It is intended to allow swimmers to “stretch” and qualify for longer distances at Kingdom Swim.

Interest has grown to the point where organizers have added the second day on June 27, with 10 swimmers signed up so far.

Next up will be Son of a Swim II on June 27, the Willoughby Tri on July 18, and Kingdom Swim on July 25.

Deadline for registration for the long courses at Kingdom Swim is July 1, 2015. Deadline for the 1 mile, ¼ mile, and 100 yard courses is July 15, 2015.

So far, 135 swimmers have signed on for Kingdom Swim, traveling from Scotland, Saudi Arabia, and 20 states and Canadian provinces.

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The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging landscapers and gardeners to choose native plants to promote the health of local ecosystems and to provide food for songbirds. Photo courtesy of the New England Wild Flower Society.

Vermonters advised to choose native plants when landscaping to help promote wildlife

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Spring has finally arrived in Vermont, and gardeners and landscapers are eagerly breaking out their shovels in anticipation of the year’s spring plantings.

Beyond the beauty new gardens provide, according to Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist Jon Kart, landscapers can make a big difference for wildlife with the plants they choose,

“Native plants such as black elderberry or wild cherry trees help a variety of species in Vermont, from songbirds to black bears,” said Kart. “And, as concerns mount for pollinator insects, such as bumblebees and monarch butterflies, we’re strongly encouraging Vermont’s gardeners and landscapers to choose plants that help promote these native species.”

Kart says that while some plants may be attractive to birds for their fruit, gardeners should chose those plants whose fruit is high in nutritional value, helping migratory species be more prepared for treks to Central and South America in the fall. Recommended plants include native nannyberry, buttonbush, common winterberry, and silky dogwood, all beautiful and hardy shrubs.

“Fruit from these native plants is like health food to birds, providing them with a lot of nutrition,” said Kart. “When you plant native alternatives, you give birds, bees and butterflies the food and habitat they need to survive.”

Other one-time garden standbys, such as Japanese barberry and honeysuckle, are much less desirable nutritionally and can easily get out of hand.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging landscapers and gardeners to choose native plants to promote the health of local ecosystems and to provide food for songbirds.  Photo courtesy of the New England Wild Flower Society.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging landscapers and gardeners to choose native plants to promote the health of local ecosystems and to provide food for songbirds. Photo courtesy of the New England Wild Flower Society.

Invasive plant species are frequently introduced into a new area by well-intentioned gardeners and landscapers, according to state botanist Bob Popp. These invasive plants can cause a variety of problems, such as crowding out native plants that provide food for wildlife or increasing erosion along stream banks.

Vermont Invasives, a joint effort by several Vermont nonprofit and government organizations, keeps a list of native plants that landscapers can use as an easy alternative to nonnative plants on their website at www.vtinvasives.org. The New England Wild Flower Society also maintains information on recommended native plants at www.newenglandwild.org.

For colorful fall foliage, Popp recommends that people plant sugar maple or red maple in place of Norway maple. He says that highbush blueberries also produce fall foliage along with tasty fruit. For privacy, Popp suggests people plant northern white cedar, white spruce or balsam fir as an alternative to blue spruce.

For low-lying wet areas or streambanks, dogwoods, alders, and native willows work best, but Popp advises people against nonnative trees such as white willow, the shrubby basket willow, or European black alder.

For gardeners looking for color, Popp suggests people look for wildflower mixes with a variety of native species such as wild bergamot and rudbeckia (also known as black-eyed Susans) which can help promote local pollinator insects.

“By choosing these plants, you’ll not only do something good for the environment, you’ll have the added enjoyment of attracting butterflies and songbirds into your yard,” said Popp.

Tick season underway Health Department warns

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Ticks are a lot like weeds. They survive winter’s freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall and lack of sunshine. These resilient critters can carry pathogens – microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites, that cause illness.

“Ticks are abundant in all parts of the state. Using bug spray and doing daily tick checks should be part of every Vermonter’s routine,” said Erica Berl, an infectious disease epidemiologist for the Vermont Department of Health. “The earlier you remove a tick, the less likely you are to become sick.”

Thirteen different tick species have been identified in Vermont, but only four are known to carry pathogens that cause disease in humans.

Lyme disease, one of the more common tickborne diseases in Vermont, is transmitted from the bite of infected deer ticks. Symptoms of Lyme disease include an expanding red skin rash, swollen joints and flu-like symptoms. The number of cases reported to the Health Department peaked in 2013 with nearly 900 cases, and there were nearly 600 cases last year.

Transmission can be prevented if the tick is removed within about 36 hours, but the nymphs are so small that they can go unnoticed if you aren’t looking for them carefully. Most infections occur in the summer months when the nymphs are most active.

Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially if treatment is given early. Left untreated, Lyme disease may affect other parts of the body, including the heart and nervous system. If you believe you may have been infected or have developed a rash or fever, call your health care provider as soon as possible.

The Health Department is advising everyone to take the following actions this spring and summer:

AVOID — Areas that are good tick habitat such as tall grass, or areas with a lot of brush and leaf litter, and along forest edges.

REPEL — Before you go outside, remember to use insect repellant with up to 30% DEET and treat clothes with permethrin. When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and tuck your pants into your socks to keep ticks away from your skin. Inspect yourself regularly when outside to catch any ticks before they bite.

INSPECT — Do daily tick checks on yourself, children and pets. Check yourself from head to toe. While nymphs are most commonly found on the lower legs, they may be anywhere on the body.

REMOVE — Remove ticks promptly. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has also been proven effective in preventing Lyme disease by washing ticks off the skin.

For the past two years, the Health Department has encouraged Vermonters to report ticks, including how many, and what type. A deer tick pulled off clothing on Sleepy Hollow Road, in Colchester, and a Lonestar tick pulled off a dog on Mosquitoville Road between Rygate and Peacham were among the hundreds of reports posted on the Health Department’s Tick Tracker website last year.

To report a tick, visit the tick tracker at: https://apps.health.vermont.gov/gis/vttracking/ticktracker/2015/

Photo taken at Lake Seymour, by Tanya Muller.

Vermont walleye fishing season underway

in Outdoors/Vermont
Photo taken at Lake Seymour, by Tanya Muller.
Photo taken at Lake Seymour, by Tanya Muller.

NEWPORT — With some of the best walleye fishing in New England in the Northeast Kingdom, the Vermont walleye fishing season is underway. The season officially opened on Saturday. The Northeast Kingdom offers walleye fishing opportunities in Salem Lake, Island Pond, Clyde Pond, and the Clyde River.

In all waters of Vermont except Lake Carmi, Chittenden Reservoir and the Connecticut River, walleye and sauger have an 18” minimum length requirement and three-fish daily limit. The open season runs from May 2 to March 15, 2016.

output_uuBvWA“We expect walleye fishing may be good this spring in some of the Lake Champlain tributaries because the cold spring temperatures and late runoff have delayed spawning, which ultimately means more walleye will be in the rivers than we’d see during a normal spring,” said Chet MacKenzie, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “Though it’s always difficult to predict, we’d expect the Winooski, Lamoille and Missisquoi Rivers to provide the best chance for anglers to connect with walleye early in the season.”

A number of other rivers and lakes across Vermont offer quality walleye fishing opportunities as well, though anglers should be aware that regulations may vary depending on the waterbody they are fishing.

Lake Carmi has a slot limit for walleye because of the lake’s high rates of natural walleye reproduction and high fishing pressure. The minimum length is 15 inches, and all walleye between 17 and 19 inches must be released. The daily limit is five walleye, but only one may be over 19 inches long. The season is open May 2 through March 15.

Chittenden Reservoir has special walleye regulations in order to produce large walleye that can help control its over-abundant yellow perch population, and provide anglers with an opportunity to harvest a trophy walleye. The minimum length is 22 inches, the daily limit is two, and the season is open June 1 through March 15.

Connecticut River walleye fishing rules are set by New Hampshire. No walleye between 16 and 18 inches may be kept and the daily limit is four fish, of which only one may be longer than 18 inches.

Vermont’s state record walleye weighed 14.55 lbs. and was caught in Lake Champlain by Richard Levesque of Swanton in 2010.

To learn more about fishing in Vermont or to purchase a Vermont fishing license, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Vermont trout fishing season opened today

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Despite the late return of spring, Vermont’s traditional trout fishing season opened today, marking the start of some of the best trout fishing of the year in the Green Mountain State.

Vermont’s spring trout season, which is widely popular among resident and non-resident anglers alike, can often afford an angler the greatest opportunity to catch trout in rivers and streams.

“Many of the biggest brown and rainbow trout caught in Vermont rivers each year are taken during the spring season,” said Eric Palmer, director of fisheries with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “Though the cold, high water early in the season may force anglers to fish slower in order to tempt sluggish fish, as the spring temperatures rise, the action can really pick up.”

Vermont is known for its excellent fishing opportunities for wild trout, as well as for stocked trout – including large, two-year old trophy trout that will be stocked statewide in the coming weeks.

Over 18,000 trophy trout will be stocked throughout Vermont in 2015 and anglers will be able to fish over 34 miles of rivers and 28 lakes and ponds that are designated as trophy water.

Vermont’s landscape offers quality habitat for brook, brown and rainbow trout, including a mix of smaller, boulder-lined mountain streams and larger, meandering creeks and rivers at lower elevations.

“Whether you prefer to fish smaller, remote streams in the woods, larger rivers in the valleys, or one of our many lakes and ponds, Vermont really has it all,” said Palmer. “We have excellent populations of trout across a range of habitats and that makes Vermont a special place to fish for people of all ages and abilities.”

As an added bonus, Vermont’s catch-and-release bass fishing season in lakes also starts on April 11, and continues through June 12 when the regular bass season starts. Only lures and flies may be used during the catch-and-release season, and bass must be released immediately.

Career Center Students to hold ice fishing tournament for local charities this weekend

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Outdoors

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NEWPORT — The North Country Career Center Welding Program students are holding an ice fishing tournament from 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 24, until 12:00 p.m on Sunday, January 25.

The tournament will take place on Lakes Memphremagog, Lake Willoughby, and Crystal Lake, with registration and weigh-in at the South Bay Boat Launch.

Ice fishermen are to fish for perch, pike and trout.

The students, while learning about their responsibility to give back to their communities, have chosen the event to help raise money for three local causes that will each receive 33 percent of the proceeds.

The local Green Mountain United Way that gives guidance to those needing financial literacy training, healthy living tips, and early learning opportunities for children, is one of the charities that will benefit from the tournament.

In order to help the environment, they have also chosen the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and its project of trying to eradicate the local lakes of milfoil.

Third, because one of their fellow students is suffering from cancer, the welding class has decided to assist Bretton Hawksworth and his family with funds for medical bills or other family needs.

During the tournament, the students will be serving food and holding raffles. An award ceremony will take place after 12:00 p.m. on January 25 at the South Bay Boat Launch.

Dig out your ice fishing equipment, come on down to South Bay for registration, and do your share in providing some well-needed funds for Green Mountain United Way, the DEC Milfoil Project, and the Hawksworth Family.

For entry fee and other information, contact Isabelle Matos, Senior Class Chairman at 802-673-4521, or Benjamin Wells, NCCC Welding Instructor at 802-744-2424.

A successful year for Vermont turkey hunters

in Outdoors/Vermont

turkey hunting vermont

NEWPORT — According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, wild turkey hunters had safe and successful spring and fall hunting seasons in 2014.

A total of 6,414 turkeys were taken by hunters during Vermont’s three hunting seasons, which consists of the spring youth hunt, the regular May spring season, and the fall turkey hunt.

Young turkey hunters mentored by experienced hunters took 554 bearded turkeys, which are almost always males, during the youth turkey hunt on the weekend before the regular spring season.

Hunters took 4,628 bearded turkeys in the May 1-31 regular spring turkey season.

Fall turkey hunting during October and November produced 1,232 turkeys of either sex, which was double that of 2013 and one of the highest fall harvests since Vermont’s wild turkey population was restored in the early 1970’s.

“Although the total harvest is less than last year’s record, I am pleased that it is higher than average,” said wild turkey project leader Amy Alfieri. “This year’s harvest number shows that Vermont’s wild turkey population at this time can sustain itself through long, cold winter’s like that of last year.”

Vermont’s wild turkey population is estimated at 45,000 to 60,000 birds.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife also reports that no turkey hunting-related shooting incidents were reported for the fourth consecutive year.

Derby native tapped for head game warden position

in Derby/News/Outdoors/Vermont

Col. Jason BatchelderDERBY — The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has announced that Lt. Jason Batchelder has been named the new director of fish and wildlife law enforcement. Batchelder will begin the role of Colonel this week, filling the position vacated by Col. David LeCours who retired in October.

Batchelder grew up in Derby. He worked for the U.S. Coast Guard in Virginia and Alaska for four years before graduating from the University of Southern Maine in 2001 and from the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council Academy in 2005. He currently lives in Morrisville with his wife and two young children. Batchelder is an avid hunter, angler and runner.

He has been with the department for ten years, working most recently in the Morrisville area, first as a field warden and then as the lieutenant for the northeast district since 2013.

“I am pleased and excited that Lt. Batchelder will be our new head of law enforcement,” said Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. “During his time with the department, Lt. Batchelder has developed a reputation among his co-workers and with the general public of energetically, meticulously, and fairly pursuing fish and wildlife violators.”

Porter also emphasized Batchelder’s knowledge and experience in his selection for the position.

“Lt. Batchelder has a deep understanding of the vital role that law enforcement plays as part of the department’s overall mission,” said Porter. “Lt. Batchelder’s calm, thoughtful demeanor will be an important asset to the department in this position.”

Bill Rivard, Principal at NCUHS, Herb Maroot, Industrial Arts teacher at NCUHS and Mike Kiser, recently retired Athletic Director at NCUHS, all active skiers, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, were in attendance at Friday night's potluck held at The Village Bike Shop.

Cyclists and skiers say goodbye sun, hello snow at potluck dinner

in Derby/Outdoors
Bill Rivard, Principal at NCUHS, Herb Maroot, Industrial Arts teacher at NCUHS and Mike Kiser, recently retired Athletic Director at NCUHS, all active skiers, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, were in attendance at Friday night's potluck held at The Village Bike Shop.
Bill Rivard, Principal at NCUHS, Herb Maroot, Industrial Arts teacher at NCUHS and Mike Kiser, recently retired Athletic Director at NCUHS, all active skiers, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, were in attendance at Friday night’s potluck held at The Village Bike Shop.

DERBY — The Village Bike Shop has been an icon in the community for almost 24 years. With the growing popularity of winter fat bike riding it seemed like the natural place to bring skiers and cyclists together for a potluck dinner.

Thirty cyclists and skiers rang in the holiday season on Friday night at the bike shop. There are plans to host other events in the space with the first one coming up December 20, at 9:30 a.m., as Mike Kiser, a Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation volunteer board member, will be holding the annual ski waxing clinic at the bike shop. All MSTF members are invited.

There are also plans to hold mini biking and skiing clinics at the shop throughout the year, as well as more social gatherings which will be open to everyone.

“I’ve always been interested in all outdoor sports,” said Jeff Manning, owner of the Village Bike Shop. “Now with the popularity of winter bike riding it’s going to be fun to explore the possibilities of dedicated single track trails in Primeau Woods off the bike path.”

These trails are a local treasure. Interest in using the trails is growing on both sides of the border. One note of importance is that if the trails are being used for reasons other than cross country skiing, riders are asked to take care not to interfere with the groomed ski tracks.

Herb Maroot, a member of the Kingdom Velo Group, said he would like to revive group and couple rides and special interest rides next cycling season, so if community members are interested, all information will be available at the bike shop.

If groups are hosting outdoor events or individuals are looking for an adventure buddy, Manning says post announcements and requests on the bulletin board at the bike shop, or speak with him about the availability of using his space.

For information regarding the clinic and MSTF membership, please visit the website at http://www.mstf.net/

Many Vermonters enjoy watching birds at their bird feeders in the winter, but Fish & Wildlife says thoroughly cleaning the feeders once a month will help keep birds healthy.

Vermonters reminded to clean bird feeders

in Outdoors/Vermont
Many Vermonters enjoy watching birds at their bird feeders in the winter, but Fish & Wildlife says thoroughly cleaning the feeders once a month will help keep birds healthy.
Many Vermonters enjoy watching birds at their bird feeders in the winter, but Fish & Wildlife says thoroughly cleaning the feeders once a month will help keep birds healthy.

NEWPORT — Vermont Fish & Wildlife is reminding Vermonters that it’s alright to put out those bird feeders now that Vermont’s black bears are sleeping in their dens for the winter, but, the department is offering some advice about bird feeder cleanliness before you run out and buy that first twenty dollar bag of seed.

Fish & Wildlife says cleaning bird feeders on a regular basis is an important and often overlooked component of feeding birds so they don’t become sick.

“Feeding birds in the winter is a source of great enjoyment for bird enthusiasts, but it can also cause diseases to spread quickly among wild birds,” says John Buck, the state’s lead biologist on migratory birds. “It is critical to clean those birdfeeders at least once a month in order to prevent a buildup of harmful pathogens.”

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can cause diseases such as aspergillosis, salmonella, avian pox, trichomoniasis, and conjunctivitis. Species commonly affected by bird feeder diseases are redpolls, pine siskins, goldfinches, sparrows, and cardinals.

Buck recommends using a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water to kill bacteria. Hot water with unscented dish detergent also does an excellent job. Wear rubber gloves to avoid any contamination. Be sure to clean inside and outside surfaces. Bottle brushes work well in tube feeders.

Be sure to thoroughly rinse your feeders to prevent residual chlorine from being ingested by birds. Then, dry the feeders well before filling them again. Any remaining moisture could lead to mold and mildew that can cause rotten, unhealthy seed.

Also, take time to remove seed and droppings in nearby areas where birds congregate. Birds can spill seed and leave debris several feet away from feeders.

Clean birdfeeders and feeding areas will attract more birds and keep them healthier for birders to enjoy.

(From left to right) Nate Grimm, Tom Streeter, Joe Sequin, Peter Alexander. Photo by John Carpenter

NCUHS Mountain Bike Club work to keep local trails maintained

in Derby/Newport/Outdoors
(From left to right) Nate Grimm, Tom Streeter, Joe Sequin, Peter Alexander. Photo by John Carpenter
(From left to right) Nate Grimm, Tom Streeter, Joe Sequin, Peter Alexander. Photo by John Carpenter

DERBY — On Wednesday, members of the NCUHS Mountain Bike Club were found working after school on the Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation (MSTF) trails, located on the Primeau property in Derby.

Their task was to clean out culverts found along the double track/ski paths, as the winter ski season is fast approaching. The club is wrapping up their biking season soon, having met every day after school from Monday through Thursday, since September 2.

There have been a total of 14 different riders to date, and the members simply come on the days that work for them. The club is open for all NCUHS students, faculty, and staff who enjoy being on a bike and getting outside.

They have taken advantage of the miles of single and double track available throughout the MSTF trail system, and encourage everyone who enjoys the outdoors to go and check out this incredible network of walking, hiking, running, biking, and skiing trails.

For more info you can visit the MSTF webpage at http://skivermont.com/memphremagog-ski-touring-foundation.html.

The group wanted to thank Bob and Ellie Primeau for giving them permission to use their wonderful trail system, Jeff Manning from the Village Bike Shop in Derby for providing tech support, and Principal Bill Rivard and the NCUHS School Board for allowing the Bike Club to become a reality.

Kevin Rice, of Pomfret, with this record moose bull taken with a bow and arrow on Oct. 1, 2014.

A successful season for Vermont moose hunters

in Outdoors/Vermont
Kevin Rice, of Pomfret, with this record moose bull taken with a bow and arrow on Oct. 1, 2014.
Kevin Rice, of Pomfret, with this record moose bull taken with a bow and arrow on Oct. 1, 2014.

NEWPORT — According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, Vermont moose hunters had a successful hunting season this year. A record bull was taken in the October 1-7 archery moose hunt. The regular moose hunting season was October 18-23.

“A preliminary count shows that by October 28 the department had received official reports of 22 moose being taken by 54 hunters in the archery season, and 147 moose taken by 289 hunters in the regular season,” said Cedric Alexander, Vermont’s moose project leader. He said a few additional reports may still be sent in from other reporting agents.

“Vermont’s moose population is being managed scientifically, according to a plan developed on sound wildlife biology and input from the public,” said Alexander. “The overall regular season hunter success rate reported to date is 51 percent, down slightly from 54 percent last year.”

Hunters in northern Vermont enjoyed higher success rates, ranging from 68 to 72 percent in Wildlife Management Units in Lamoille, Orleans, Caledonia, and Essex Counties. Hunters in central and southern Vermont had lower success rates.

Of note, for the second year in a row, biologists who surveyed for winter tick larva on harvested moose found them much reduced. Tick loads were 41 percent lower than last year, perhaps due to a late snowpack last April. These reduced loads should help moose come through this next winter in better shape than in previous years.

After applying for more than 22 years, Kevin Rice of South Pomfret, finally received a moose permit and maximized his rare opportunity to harvest a moose. Using his hunting knife and black spray paint, Rice fashioned a cardboard cow moose decoy from a refrigerator carton.

On opening morning of the archery season Rice and his hunting partner, Steve Schaefer, of Hartford, tried using a moose call with no luck. But later that morning a huge bull moose Rice had previously seen while scouting saw the decoy and came running straight in.

“He was swaying his antlers from side to side, grunting and drooling,” said Rice, who stood up and drew his bow when the moose was 15 yards away. “He kept coming, anyway,” Rice remembers. “My opportunity for a good shot came when he was just seven yards away.”

The dressed moose weighed 919 lbs. with an antler spread of 52 inches and was easily the largest bull moose ever taken in a Vermont archery season and the 15th biggest of all moose taken since moose hunting started in 1993.

“All the effort was worth it,” said Rice. “We have a freezer full of delicious moose meat, and it truly was a hunt of a lifetime.”

A final report on Vermont’s moose hunting season will be available in January when all of the 2014 data has been received and reviewed.

(back row left to right) Marianna Barrett, Justin Bouchard, Cooper Brueck, Ian Applegate, Charlie Thompson, (front row) Frankie Thompson, Corbin Brueck, Arne Bannach, Noah Fortin.

Youth learning to connect with the Clyde River

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby/News/Outdoors
(back row left to right) Marianna Barrett, Justin Bouchard, Cooper Brueck, Ian Applegate, Charlie Thompson, (front row) Frankie Thompson, Corbin Brueck, Arne Bannach, Noah Fortin.
(back row left to right) Marianna Barrett, Justin Bouchard, Cooper Brueck, Ian Applegate, Charlie Thompson, (front row) Frankie Thompson, Corbin Brueck, Arne Bannach, Noah Fortin.

DERBY — The Clyde River has a long tradition of kids spending time outdoors along its reach. From paddling its swiftwater sections, fishing for brookies in deep pools, jigging for smelt on winter ice, hunting forest partridge along its wooded margins, or simply skipping rocks after swimming on a hot summer day.

Unfortunately, these days kids spend less time on rivers and more and more time indoors in front of screens. With a project goal both simple and lofty, Coutts-Moriarty Camp has aimed to help local youths to rekindle their connection with the Clyde River, and thus create the next generation of our community’s river stewards.

With the help of a “Small and Inspiring Grant” from The Vermont Community Foundation, the Coutts-Moriarty Camp has been able to start a project called Clyde River Connections, a place-based afterschool series that connects kids to their communities in the Clyde River watershed through interactive science, outdoor recreation, cultural activities, and service work.

A dozen local kids have been gathering for 2.5 hours one day a week throughout an 18 week extended after school series to swim, fish, paddle, hike, investigate, conduct historical research, meet locals with strong Clyde connections, monitor water quality, generate discussions of sustainability beside a local hydroelectric dam, and give back to this amazing ecological and economic resource that links our local communities.

A 2006 study conducted by the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture identified the upper Clyde River subwatershed as among only 14 percent of watersheds in Vermont with intact brook trout populations. Water quality surveys and stream geomorphic assessments completed over the past decade have also identified the Clyde as in the best condition of the four tributaries of Lake Memphremagog.

In all The Vermont Community Foundation awarded 35 Small and Inspiring grants totaling $69,379 to support projects in towns across the state this spring and summer. The Small and Inspiring program funds work that helps connect people to their neighbors, their land, and their history in ways that strengthen the fabric of the community.

Glover Historical Society was also recently awarded $1,000 to support It Takes A Village: Glover Pioneer Camp Community Outreach and Awareness Campaign, a series of social and informational activities at the Historic Parker Settlement and public events to increase awareness of the camp as a resource and build community engagement.

Four exciting “Winter Games” planned in Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/Outdoors

Winter Games Newport Vermont

NEWPORT — Winter Games, the colder counterpart of Kingdom Games, has several exciting events and initiatives planned for this winter. They include:

The North American Speedskating Marathon Championships on January 31 – February 1, 2015.

As part of this event, weather and ice conditions permitting, they will be clearing and maintaining a 700 meter speedskating oval adjacent to The EastSide Restaurant. Once the event has taken place, organizers will be attempting to keep the oval open through the middle of March for the public to use. 

The Great Skate Monday February 2nd, 2015. 

Last year they were able to plow the length of the lake between Newport and Magog. In total, 25 Nordic skaters registered for the event, 20 actually participated, and 10 made it the full distance. Part of this will be the clearing and construction of a Nordic skating trail that will go from Newport Bay out and around in Derby Bay. If conditions allow, it will extend it into Canada. The hope is that a skating trail on this side of the border can be maintained in addition to the oval. The goal is to offer the longest skating trail in the US.

Memphremagog Pond Hockey Tournament on February 7 and 8, 2015. 

Last year this one-day tournament had six teams participate. This year organizers are ready to expand it to two days and hope to double or triple the number of teams participating, and would like to hold the tournament at Prouty Beach as they did last year.

US Winter Swimming Championships on February 21, 22, 2015. 

Organizers have partnered with the fledgling US Winter Swimming Association to bring a very popular winter sport to North America. This event involves cutting two 25 meter swimming lanes in the ice and offering 25, 50, and 100 meter swims. Events in northern Europe typically draw 200 or more participants. Some draw 500. The world championships last year drew over 1,300.

These winter initiatives have the potential to draw significant national and international attention to the area and bring recreational athletic tourism to Newport.

Judy Davis speaking about the use of shrubs like blueberries as buffers.

Neighborhood workshop on Lake Memphremagog spreads knowledge and blueberry bushes

in Derby/Newport/News/Outdoors
Perry Thomas explaining the role shoreland buffers play in creating healthy shallow water ecosystems.
Perry Thomas explaining the role shoreland buffers play in creating healthy shallow water ecosystems.

NEWPORT — On a recent beautiful fall morning, neighbors on Derby Bay gathered by Lake Memphremagog to learn about the importance of shoreland buffers. Dr. Perry Thomas, professor of aquatic biology at CCV, spoke with the group about the impressive variety of plant and animal life found by lake shores, helping them understand the value of a healthy buffer.

Judy Davis, Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds (FOVLAP) board director, spoke about the value of shrubs such as blueberries in a buffer. Participants went home with new knowledge and blueberry bushes to plant on their property to enhance lake health.

The Buffer for Blue Lakes Workshop was presented by the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds and sponsored by Memphremagog Watershed Association (MWA).

Vegetative shoreland buffers, located along lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and ponds, are the single most effective protection for water quality, lake ecosystems and essential wildlife habitat. These strips of ground covers, shrubs, and trees serve as transitional areas where land and water meet to create unique and highly productive ecosystems.

The canopy created by trees, shrubs and herbaceous vegetation moderates the impact of heavy rains, shades the shoreline to reduce water temperature, and produces organic matter and woody debris essential to shallow-water ecology. Root systems give soil structure, hold soil in place, direct rainfall down into the soil instead of over the soil, and can extract nutrients and contaminates from soil.

The abundance of water and the diversity of plant communities in vegetated buffers help support a variety of aquatic and terrestrial life. They also provide valuable social, economic and environmental benefits.

There will be more of these neighborhood workshops in the 2015 season.

Judy Davis speaking about the use of shrubs like blueberries as buffers.
Judy Davis speaking about the use of shrubs like blueberries as buffers.

Record season for Vermont tourism

in Outdoors/Vermont

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NEWPORT – Great weather, targeted advertising, and more than $300,000 focused on the fall season alone, prompted a strong summer and foliage tourism season in Vermont. More than 4 million people visited Vermont this summer from around the world, and the early reports regarding foliage visitors has been promising. In addition, the Department of Tourism and Marketing is fine-tuning a $350,000 winter ad campaign to ensure this ski and snowboard season gets off to a strong start.

“Columbus Day holiday weekend is the busiest of the year in Vermont, with visitors heading to hiking trails, inns and lodges, museums, restaurants and other attractions across the entire state,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said. “Given the importance of this industry to Vermont’s economy and job creation, I’m thrilled we’ve had such a strong year, and committed to doing what it takes to ensure visitors across the globe know how much Vermont has to offer.”

Fall accounts for $460 million in tourism spending, just over 25 percent of Vermont’s annual spending by visitors. The state sees approximately 3.57 million visitors in fall, who spend $128 per person. Fall is the season that universally canvasses the state with tourism. The economic impact reaches well beyond resort areas, major attractions or the cities, with back road and small town touring being on most travelers’ to-do lists.

Gov. Shumlin noted that the state committed $310,000 to an advertising campaign designed to bring visitors from New York and Boston. More than 2.7 million tourists travel from New York and Massachusetts annually to Vermont, bringing to $370 million the annual spending by visitors. Included in the advertising package is an editorial, print and digital campaign, as well as broad marketing.

Vermont saw a healthy summer tourism season, as well. With tax revenue for meals and rooms collected during September up 6.9 percent over last year – and up 5.16 percent for the three months of the fiscal year to date – the hospitality/recreation sector has clearly enjoyed a strong summer season. The room sales (essentially hotel/inn/lodge stays) were up 11.2 percent for the second quarter (April through June).

State Park visitation will easily surpass 950,000 this year, hitting 946,000 as of October 6, an increase of 8 percent. This is the highest visit count since 1989. The numbers roughly break down to 400,000 camping (184,000 residents/216,000 visitors), and 550,000 day use visits (450,000 residents/100,000 visitors).

Outdoor recreation activity generates $2.5 billion in Vermont retail sales and services (12 percent of gross state product) annually. That sector alone results in $753 million in salaries and wages for 34,000 jobs – and $176 million in state tax revenue.

974699_10202563035549553_217438811_n“Our working landscape, healthy forests and favorable weather have combined for another spectacular Vermont foliage season,” said Michael Snyder, Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation. “With visitors and veteran observers alike calling this the best – most vibrant and extended – foliage season in memory, we are enjoying a strong finish to an exceptional summer and fall season for our parks and for outdoor recreation throughout the state.”

Although specifics are still being worked out, the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing has budgeted $350,000 for winter advertising. In addition, the state is collaborating with Ski Vermont, Cabot and the Burlington International Airport to increase this budget with partnered media purchases in Boston, New York, Toronto and Quebec. This year’s campaign will get a jump start by beginning earlier than in past years. Typical advertising campaigns begin post-holiday, however this year the Department is launching Vermont’s winter advertising campaign immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the 2013-14 season, Vermont ski areas logged over 4.5 million visits, nearly matching the most skiers and riders ever seen in the state’s history. Those visits translate into over $700 million in direct spending throughout the season, with over two-thirds of those expenditures occurring off-mountain throughout Vermont’s villages and towns. The resorts themselves spend over $250 million with nearly 3,000 Vermont businesses for the goods and services they need to run their resorts, and significantly supporting the creation of over 34,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry.

“As Vermont’s legendary leaves turn to snow, we can’t wait to start spinning the lifts after last year’s near-record season,” said Ski Vermont president Parker Riehle. “Vermont remains the top ski state in the east and the third-biggest in the country and we couldn’t be more proud of being an iconic cornerstone of Vermont’s critically important tourism economy. This season, we are excited to once again be offering the 5th Grade Passport Program which provides free skiing for 5th graders throughout the season at all alpine and Nordic ski areas.”

Finally, the Tourism booth at the Vermont Building at Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass., was staffed by more than 50 volunteers representing Vermont businesses, lodging establishments, attractions and chambers of commerce. The 17-day fair welcomed 1,498,605 visitors, which is a new record.

Vermont innkeepers participating in the department’s annual survey of lodging establishments consistently report that around 5 percent of their guests are visitors from overseas. Vermont’s inquiry data from information requests from overseas – not Canada – indicates the following ranking for the top 20 countries: Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Spain, Brazil, Italy, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Algeria, Israel, India, Austria, Russia, Ireland, Belgium, Argentina, Morocco, New Zealand, and Sweden.

“Vermont’s tourism economy continues to gain momentum year after year as development in our sector continues to grow,” said Megan Smith, Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing. “Investments in Vermont’s infrastructure and tourism facilities have helped to support this growth. Vermont’s strong reputation for outdoor recreation, unparalleled beauty and an unspoiled landscape have contributed to our strong tourism economy. It’s important that we keep these attributes in mind as our industry grows.”

List of big game reporting stations in Orleans County

in Outdoors/Vermont

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NEWPORT — Hunters who take a bear, deer, turkey, or moose during the Vermont hunting seasons must bring the animal within 48 hours to the nearest game warden or to the nearest Vermont Fish & Wildlife reporting station. Below is a list of wardens and reporting stations in Orleans County.

State Wardens

Jason Dukette, Derby – 754-2468
Jenna Reed, Newport Center – 334-1215
Spc. Russell Shopland – 472-3040

Reporting Stations

Bob’s Quick Stop, Irasburg – 754-2104
C. Village Store, Craftsbury – 586-2554
Currier’s Market, Glover – 525-8822
Degre Auction Service, LLC, Westfield – 744-2427
E.M. Brown & Son, Inc., Barton – 525-3422
Evansville Trading Post, Brownington – 754-6305
Four Corners Mini-Mart, North Troy – 988-4600
Green Mountain Sporting Goods, Irasburg – 754-6165
Lanoue’s General Store, Orleans – 754-6365
Mister O’s Sporting Goods, Newport – 334-5525
Smith’s Grocery, Greensboro Bend – 533-2631
The Lucier Store, Newport Center – 334-8056
Wright’s Enterprises, Newport – 334-6115

Hunters looking forward to start of archery deer season

in Outdoors/Vermont

big game hunting Vermont 2014 datesNEWPORT — Hunters are enthusiastic about Vermont’s upcoming October 4 – 26 and December 6 – 14 split archery deer hunting season.

A hunter may take up to three deer in Vermont’s two-part archery season with three archery licenses. No more than one of the deer taken during archery season may be a legal buck. No antlerless deer may be taken in Wildlife Management Unit (WMUs) D2, E1 or E2, where antlerless deer hunting is prohibited in 2014.

In Vermont a hunter may take up to three deer in a calendar year in any combination of seasons (Archery, Youth Weekend, November Rifle Season, December Muzzleloader). Of these, only two may be legal bucks, and only one buck may be taken in each season. A “legal buck” is a deer with at least one antler having two or more points one inch or longer. All three deer in the annual bag limit may be antlerless deer.

In order to purchase an archery license, the hunter must show a certificate of satisfactorily completing a bow hunter education course, or show a previous or current bow hunting license from any state or Canadian province, or sign an affidavit that they have previously held an archery license.

Hunters must have a standard hunting license in order to purchase an add-on archery deer hunting license, except that nonresidents may purchase an “archery only deer license” costing just $75. Licenses may be quickly and easily purchased on Fish & Wildlife’s website www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

It is now legal to carry a pistol or revolver while bow hunting deer in the bow and arrow season. The pistol or revolver may not be used to take game or dispatch the deer. It is illegal to carry a rifle, shotgun or muzzleloader while bow hunting deer in the bow and arrow deer season.

A person shall not take any wild animal by shooting a firearm, muzzleloader, bow and arrow or crossbow while on or within 25 feet of the traveled portion of a public highway, except a public highway designated Class 4 on a town highway map. A person while on or within the traveled portion of a Class 4 public highway shall not take any wild animal by shooting a firearm, muzzleloader, bow and arrow, or crossbow.

Tree stands and ground blinds may only be built or used if the hunter has landowner permission. This includes portable as well as permanent stands and blinds. A hunter constructing or using a stand or blind must permanently mark his or her name and address on it so that it may be conveniently and easily read. Landowners are exempted from this requirement. On Vermont State Wildlife Management Areas, it is illegal to use nails, bolts or screws, including screw-in climbing steps, or wire, chain or other material that penetrates through the bark.

Because additional restrictions apply, hunters are urged to read the entire law governing the use of stands and blinds on page 21 of the “2014 Vermont Guide to Hunting, Fishing & Trapping,” available online and where licenses are sold.

Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park, Vermont swimming the length of Lake Memphremagog. Photo by Phil White.

Three swim the 25 mile length of Lake Memphremagog

Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park, Vermont swimming the length of Lake Memphremagog. Photo by Phil White.
Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park, Vermont swimming the length of Lake Memphremagog. Photo by Phil White.

DERBY — Three marathon open water swimmers completed this year’s 25 mile, international swim between Newport, Vermont and Magog, Quebec.

The swim, called “In Search of Memphre,” started on Friday night, with five swimmers, but was halted by a thunderstorm that hit just an hour into the swim. It was rescheduled to Saturday night, with four swimmers at the start. Three left the ramp at The Gateway Center in Newport, at 11:02 p.m. The fourth started an hour later at 12:02 a.m.

Grace van der Byl, 36, of Solana Beach, California was the first to the finish, with a time of 11 hours and 33 minutes. She recently won the 28 mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Her support crew included Margrethe Horlyck-Romanovsky of New York City and Eri Utsunomiya of Jersey City, New Jersey. This swim was Grace’s longest time in the water and her longest swim without current assists.

David Uprichard, 48, of New York, finished in 15 hours and 59 minutes. He was supported by Manuela Jessel of New York City, and Hayley Joseph of Coventry. David has experience swimming into Canadian waters, having completed Kingdom Swim’s 15 Mile Border Buster this past July. This was the longest swim of his life.

Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park, swam into Magog as the sun was setting, finishing in 19 hours and 55 minutes. She was supported by Deborah Beier of Hyde Park, and Cynthia Needham, also of Hyde Park. She also had experience crossing into Canada during Kingdom Swim’s 15 mile Border Buster.

It’s believed that Paula is the oldest person to swim the length of the lake, ever. She smashed the record for the longest time in the water set by Elaine Kornbau Howley in 2011, with a time of 17 hours and 59 minutes.

Franco Prezioso, 48, of Bel Air, Maryland, swam to the Canadian Border, but pulled out at that point.

Three additional support boats accompanied The Search, piloted by Bruce and Karen Lippens of Derby, Greg O’Connor of Natick, Massachusetts, Robert Fernald of North Hampton, New Hampshire, Phil White of Derby, Pam Ladds of Newport, and Elaine Korbau Howley of Waltham, Massachusetts.

In Search of Memphre was started in 2011 on the weekend of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The goal of the 25 mile, international swim is to promote a more open border between the United States and Canada and to search for the legendary and swimmer friendly lake creature, Memphre.

David and Georgeville

LIST: Big game hunting dates and reporting stations in Orleans County

in Outdoors/Vermont

big game hunting Vermont 2014 dates

NEWPORT — Early black bear hunting season starts September 1. Hunters who take a bear, deer, turkey, or moose during the Vermont hunting seasons must bring the animal within 48 hours to the nearest game warden or to the nearest Vermont Fish & Wildlife reporting station. Below is a list of big game hunting season dates, along with phone numbers of wardens and reporting stations in Orleans County for 2014.

Big Game Hunting

Sep 1 – Nov 14 Early Black Bear Hunting Season
Oct 1 – Oct 7 Moose Archery Hunting
Oct 4 – Oct 24 Bow & Arrow Turkey Hunting in all WMU’s Statewide
Oct 4 – Oct 26 Bow & Arrow Deer Hunting
Oct 18 – Oct 23 Regular Moose Hunting Season

Oct 25 – Shotgun or Bow & Arrow Turkey Hunting Opens for Select WMU’s
Nov 2 – Shotgun or Bow & Arrow Turkey Hunting Closes for Select WMU’s

Nov 8 – Nov 9 Youth Rifle Deer Hunting Weekend

Nov 9 – Shotgun or Bow & Arrow Turkey Hunting Closes in Select WMU’s

Nov 15 – Nov 23 Late Black Bear Hunting Season
Nov 15 – Nov 30 Rifle Deer Hunting Season
Dec 6 – Dec 14 Bow & Arrow Deer Hunting
Dec 6 – Dec 14 Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Season

ORLEANS COUNTY

State Wardens
Jason Dukette, Derby – 754-2468
Jenna Reed, Newport Center – 334-1215
Spc. Russell Shopland – 472-3040

REPORTING STATIONS

Bob’s Quick Stop, Irasburg – 754-2104

C. Village Store, Craftsbury – 586-2554

Currier’s Market, Glover – 525-8822

Degre Auction Service, LLC, Westfield – 744-2427

E.M. Brown & Son, Inc., Barton – 525-3422

Evansville Trading Post, Brownington – 754-6305

Four Corners Mini-Mart, North Troy – 988-4600

Green Mountain Sporting Goods, Irasburg – 754-6165

Lanoue’s General Store, Orleans – 754-6365

Mister O’s Sporting Goods, Newport – 334-5525

Smith’s Grocery, Greensboro Bend – 533-2631

The Lucier Store, Newport Center – 334-8056

Wright’s Enterprises, Newport – 334-6115

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