March 2023
Winter hiking in Groton State Forest
Greetings Everyone,

As we gear up for the 2023 season, I want to celebrate the diversity of our park visitors. They come from far and wide to create a special state park community and seek all the wonders Vermont's mighty park system has to offer. I also salute the diversity of our staff who hail from an incredible variety of backgrounds and lived experiences. This is a gift which makes our teams stronger.
Nothing is more important to us than doing all we can to ensure every single person who works with us, or visits state parks, feels welcomed and is treated fairly.

Nate McKeen, Director of State Parks
Outdoor Observer
by Rebecca Roy, Parks Interpretive Program Manager
This winter while you are snuggled next to a toasty woodstove fire, sipping a mug of hot chocolate, animals are finding ways to survive the winter weather outside. Even as you are feeling safe and warm inside, a snowshoe hare may be using your favorite campsite as a refuge from the deep snow of winter. Life continues to go on in the winter world of Vermont.   
Remember those squirrels that would frequent your campsite or picnic spot in the summer? Right now, they are looking for pine and spruce cones for food, and searching for the places where they stashed nuts earlier in the year. Perhaps you have noticed a squirrel hiding acorns under a log while you were visiting a park. Now that squirrel is digging out those nuts so it can have a nutritious food source in the cold. It takes a great deal of energy and insulation to stay warm in winter. You know that because when you head out the door, what do you put on? I usually wear a thick coat, hat and gloves. Squirrels do not have the luxury of putting on a puffy warm jacket, but they do grow thicker winter fur to keep them warmer.   
Red and gray squirrels belong to a group called tree squirrels because they live in trees. Chipmunks belong to the ground squirrel group because—you guessed it—they live underground. Which type of home do you think would be more accessible in the winter? My vote goes to the tree nest, and it is true that tree squirrels can find food in trees and access their nests all winter long. Our friendly neighborhood chipmunks, on the other hand, hole up in their ground nests and snuggle in for the winter. Have you noticed chipmunks popping in and out of holes in the ground during other seasons? Those are the tunnels that spread down, down, down into their subterranean nests. Chipmunks burrow down far enough to go below the frost line and angle their tunnels enough so that snow will not filter down into their nests.    
Every animal has unique methods of handling the challenges of winter weather. White tail deer will move into areas with less snow, mostly under hemlock trees and other evergreens. Evergreen trees are great shelter in the winter because they keep their needles, and this causes the snow to shed away from the trees so that the snow stays shallow under them. That hemlock stand you picnicked in last summer at Emerald Lake State Park may be a deer bedding place today. Moose, on the other hand, are engineered for high elevations and deep snow. Moose take their long legs and march up to the mountaintops to spend the winter. You might see one if you take a wintertime hike on Camel’s Hump or another ridgeline in Vermont. 

Exploring Vermont State Parks really is a unique experience in the wintertime. While you are finding ways to stay warm this winter, the animals that live in your favorite park are doing the same thing in their own way. If you are curious, put on your warmest jacket and head out into the parks to see what is happening in the winter world of Vermont.   
New this year...
New Maximum Night Stays
In order to give more people access to the most popular campsites, as of April 3, 2023, we're limiting the maximum night stay to 7 nights for all cottages, cabins and Burton Island waterfront lean-to's. Additionally, the maximum stay for prime sites at Little River, Stillwater and Ricker Pond will be limited to 14 nights.

No-show policy
If you can't arrive for your camping reservation on your expected arrival date, please contact the park to notify them. If you haven't checked in and have not contacted the park by the second night of your expected arrival, your site will be forfeited and no refund will be issued.

Now Hiring for the 2023 Season
Currently recruiting

- Park managers
- Park interpreters
- Attendants
- Deckhands
- Maintenance staff
- and more!

Part-time and full-time positions are available statewide.
Work in the beautiful Vermont outdoors with some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Happy customers continuously tell us that our staff are the best around. Our staff tell us that working for the parks is some of the most rewarding and meaningful work they’ve ever done.

If you have an excellent work ethic, customer service and/or management experience, and a great attitude, we’d love for you to apply.
Food Scrap Collection in Campgrounds
Vermont State Parks has been working diligently over the past several years to start a food scrap collection program at all state park campgrounds. Perhaps you saw this program piloted in a handful of camping parks over the last two seasons. Our food scrap collection program includes specially designed collection containers, signs and educational materials, contracted compost hauling vendors, and educated park staff to help with program implementation.
This summer you will have the opportunity to participate in this program in your favorite state park campground because we are expanding this program to every campground across the state. Our goals are to reduce our environmental impact, comply with state statute, and cut the amount of waste being transported to Coventry, Vermont’s only landfill. 

One challenge of collecting food scraps is the potential increase in nuisance wildlife interactions, especially black bears, which can be made worse by food odors. As part of the plan, we installed steel bear proof collection lockers to keep bears separate from food collection sites.

In 2012, the Vermont Legislature unanimously passed the Universal Recycling Law (Act 148), banning major categories of materials (like recyclables and food scraps) from trash disposal over a phased timeline. The Universal Recycling Law included the banning of food scraps from the landfill for all businesses, offices, organizations, schools, municipalities, events, and residents. The pandemic significantly delayed implementation of this food scrap collection program in the parks.
How do I compost food waste when I go camping at a Vermont State Park?
After making a meal, separate your food waste from your other trash and recyclables by placing it in a separate container (such as a bowl or a bag). Bring this container of food waste to the waste management area of the park (near the dumpsters), there you will find special food scrap collection containers. It is important to only empty approved items into the food scrap collection containers to avoid contamination. Containers are clearly marked with acceptable items and park staff will help guide you if you have questions.
Park staff will secure food scraps collection containers into bear proof containers during evening hours. A good tip is to get rid of food scraps from your campsite after each meal. Never leave unsecured food materials on your campsite, as bears, racoons, skunks, and other critters are attracted to the scent. Keep Vermont green and beautiful and keep our wildlife safe by participating in this food scrap collection program in your favorite state park. 
As the non-profit foundation for Vermont's 55 state parks, VPF works to make the state parks even better for everyone!  To learn more, read the Impact Report.
In 2022, with the support of generous park enthusiasts like you, Vermont Parks Forever (VPF):

  • Provided over 5,500 free visits for Vermonters who are underrepresented in the outdoors

  • Funded 2 paid internships focused on public service, stewardship, and equity in the parks

  • Finalized the new, free Groton Nature Center opening this summer
Didn't get a chance to donate in 2022? Vermont Parks Forever works all year long to protect and enhance the state parks you love.  
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"In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful." ― Alice Walker