Volume 1 | August 1st, 2018
Welcome To Our New Newsletter!
Greetings, everyone!

I sure hope you are all getting outdoors a lot during this fabulous Vermont summer. There is just so much hiking, picnicking, swimming, running, biking and horseback riding to do it’s hard to fit it all in, isn’t it? Last weekend, my kids (all grown up, some with families of their own) called and invited me to join them camping at New Discovery State Park . Wow, what a great time we had! We hiked, swam fished, and kayaked all around the Groton State Forest and generally hung out by the fire for a couple of terrific days. It was a classic camping trip complete with lots of activity, stories, food and laughter. And it even had a bit of adventure surviving some drenching thunderstorms. The memories are already well set in our minds where they will remain for a long, long time. Camping does that every time! Our hats go off to Park Managers Don and Karen O’Donnell and their staff for outstanding hospitality and an immaculate campground. Surely one of our best!

My only regret is not having read Rebecca’s article bellow about the chipmunk population this year. We definitely witnessed an abundance of the furry little things at our campsite and I would have been glad to have impressed the grandkids with my new-found knowledge of such things! Next time.

See you out there! 
Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks

Try camping for free, gear included

Vermont State Parks is excited to launch the new First Time Happy Campers Program at five parks during the months of July and August. Created in partnership with the Outdoor Gear Exchange, this program provides free camping for new campers, whose names will be chosen at random when they register through  https://www.vtstateparks.com/happy-camper.html.

The program is designed to encourage families who haven’t camped before to give it a try. Participants will receive a free campsite, firewood, tents, camp stove, lantern and sleeping pads. If campers don’t have sleeping bags or don’t want to bring bedding from home, they can purchase sleeping bags online from the Outdoor Gear Exchange for a discounted rate of $34.95 for delivery to their home or pick-up upon arrival at the park.

Free sunscreen dispensers have been installed at 11 popular Vermont State Parks across the state, including Waterbury Center , Elmore , Branbury , and Silver Lake .

There are fun and educational programs led by knowledgeable park interpreters happening at many parks all summer long. Plan your trip and view the events calendar online .

-by Rebecca Roy, Vermont State Parks Conservation Education Coordinator

We live our best outdoor lives in the Vermont summertime. We are hanging out beachside at Camp Plymouth State Park , hiking to the top of Vermont from Underhill State Park , and tearing it up on our mountain bikes at Mt Ascutney State Park . More time outside means more time for outdoor observations.

Have you observed more curious little striped chipmunks around this year? It is a great year to watch these little forest friends scurry around collecting seeds and jumping along our many stone fences in the woods. We have more chipmunks than we typically do because of weather patterns over the past couple of years.

Chipmunks use their keen sense of smell to find nuts, which they gather in cheek pouches and store in their underground larder for wintertime food. Chipmunks will store up to eight pounds of seeds underground to help them make it through the cold Vermont winter. Chipmunks hibernate underground in a bed of dry leaves, and they lack the fat reserves to hibernate completely through the entire long winter. Chipmunks will rouse occasionally and dine on the seeds they are gathering now in the summer woods.

Chipmunks breed during sugaring time when the days start to feel warm in late February or March. About a month later, 4-5 tiny chipmunk babies are born. By May the young chipmunks are on their own, gathering seeds and nuts for their own larder.

In good years, like last year, chipmunks will breed again in midsummer and have a second family of chipmunk babies in late summer or early fall. The multitude of chipmunks you see this summer are here because chipmunks were able to have two litters last year.

This prime chipmunk circumstance was brought by a dry, hot summer in 2016. This stressed many of our trees. When the summer of 2017 came along with plentiful days of cool rains, trees compensated by producing an abundance of seeds and nuts. Perhaps you noticed all the tiny maple trees sprouting all over the place, extra beechnuts scattering the ground, more acorns than you have seen, and pine trees heavily laden with cones.

This abundance of seeds and nuts was a smorgasbord to chipmunks across the region. Because healthy nutritious food was abundant, chipmunks fed heartily and were so healthy they were able to have that second litter, and then those additional chipmunks had their own litters earlier this spring.

Now we can enjoy the antics of these adorable rodents as they scurry through our campsite and fill their cheek pouches with whatever delicious seeds they can find. Watch for them as you enjoy the Vermont summer weather in your favorite Vermont state park. 

If you had to guess what state park campground in Vermont has the highest elevation, most would probably nominate Smugglers’ Notch , located on a steep, narrow road near Mt. Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont. In fact it's Woodfoord State Park only a few miles from the Massachusetts border.

Certain parks seem to get all the love & attention, but did you know there are 55 different state parks all across Vermont that are just as worthy of a visit? Take a tour of some of our less well-known but equally deserving parks.

You may have noticed that our newsletter looks slightly different these days! We've updated the template to make it more mobile-friendly, but will keep all the same great content. Email us at anr.parks@vermont.gov with feedback, and what you'd like to see in future newsletters.
N ew to fishing, or just forgot your gear? Teaming up with Vermont Fish & Wildlife, the Reel Fun program expands to 18 parks, providing free loaner gear, including rods, reel and tackle.

When kids explore the outdoors, they build healthy bodies and minds. And what better place to enjoy Vermont’s woods, waters, and mountains than our amazing state parks! That’s why one of Vermont Parks Forever’s (VPF’s) goals is to get more people, especially those from underserved communities, out into our parks. 
To help meet this goal, every year VPF, in partnership with the Vermont Department for Children and Families, provides free park passes to foster families. This year, thanks to generous gifts from the Cashdan/Stein Great Grandmother Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, the Charles P. Ferro Foundation, The Alchemist, and numerous individuals, 150 parks passes will be provided to foster families throughout the state!
To learn more about VPF’s work to make Vermont’s state parks even more wonderful visit  www.vermontparksforever.org . To make a gift in support of projects like the Foster Family Park Passes Program please visit https://www.mightycause.com/organization/Vermont-Parks-Forever .
Featured photographer:

Tiffany Soukup is a longtime park manger who currently runs Townshend State Park with her husband Chris. Follow her world travelling adventures at vagabondway.net . Thanks to Tiff for the colorful header photo taken at Mt. Ascutney State Park.
Featured photographer:

Bob Ricketson is a prolific volunteer photographer who has traveled around the state and photographed many of our state parks over the years. View more of Bob's work at his official website . Thanks to Bob for the photo of Woodford State Park day use area.

Thank you for reading the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks!
Vermont State Parks | 1 (888) 409-7579 | anr.parks@vermont.gov | www.vtstateparks.com

"Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is about." John Mayer