Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR), which owns and manages the Perry Hill Block in CC Putnam State Forest, announces a pilot winter recreation management program aimed at reducing and reducing the negative impact on wildlife at the same time providing a pleasant winter recreation experience for the public. FPR will partner with the City of Waterbury and the Waterbury Area Trails Alliance (WATA) to provide groomed fatbikes, snowshoes, skis and pedestrians access to selected trails.
“We’re excited to offer groomed trails at Perry Hill,” said FPR Commissioner Michael Snyder. “At the same time, we are trying to balance this important recreational opportunity with part of the package that is primarily dedicated to minimizing the negative impact on wintering deer.”
Much of Perry Hill is a functioning deer wintering area. During the winter months, deer have limited food supplies and live on fat reserves. The wintering areas of the deer offer locations a uniform, evergreen roof that reduces the snow load, offers protection and minimizes the deer’s energy requirements. In recent years, FPR has observed increased use of hiking trails in winter, encouraging this experimental management measure to reduce the impact of winter recreation on deer survival in winter.
In this pilot program, two zones were established in Perry Hill: a designated winter recreation zone and a designated game zone for deer. The winter recovery zone will focus on creating the ideal trail profile for fat biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Recreation from scattered pedestrians is not restricted in the deer wintering zone, but it is important that visitors understand the need to limit disturbance in this zone.
The deer wintering zone is marked with signs on the ground. For information about Perry Hill’s management goals and user ethics, please refer to the notice boards at the Trailhead kiosk.
“The decision to manage part of the Perry Hill Trail system for access to winter recreation is a rare choice for ANR areas that is a compromise to proactively manage access to winter recreation in a deer wintering area,” said Snyder. “The public access benefits that Perry Hill offers, including the package’s proximity to a population center and the large area of the property used as a wintering area for deer, provide an opportunity to demonstrate a balanced approach to land management.”
“Our goal is to create an area that focuses winter use to create an area of the property that is less recreational,” said Walter Opuszynski, FPR Forest Recreation Specialist. “Trail usage is monitored to determine if management measures are effective. We ask the public to respect the signage and learn how to minimize its impact on wildlife. “
The Waterbury Area Trails Alliance (WATA) is a not-for-profit trail organization that helps FPR manage the trails in Perry Hill. This winter they will help with the signage, public information and maintenance of the hiking trails. In addition, the local outdoor equipment store Bicycle Express provides maintenance support and helps with data collection.
“Through this pilot effort, we hope that we can find a way to make the winter recreation at Perry Hill less of an impact on wildlife by concentrating the impact,” said John Duston, president of the WATA board of directors. “Our community relies on the ability to enjoy the forests for our physical and mental health. Our native species rely on having high quality areas during the winter months. “
FPR has established the following guidelines for user behavior:
All leisure user groups
- Respect the established deer wintering zone by staying on groomed trails. Please focus your leisure activities on the following walking path corridors: Main Climb, Campfire, S’Mores, Joe’s, Six Flags and duct tape (see attached map). Staying on these trails will improve the functioning of the deer wintering zone on the east side of the package.
- Please note all COVID-19 guidelines: https://fpr.vermont.gov/recreation/outdoor-recreation-and-covid-19
- Dogs: It is important that you keep your dogs on a leash or leave them at home. Dogs can hunt wildlife and add stress to them during a very vulnerable season.
- The minimum tire width is 3.8 inches with a psi between 2 and 8 pounds.
- Keep the groomed surface in good condition by not driving in soft conditions. If your tire sinks more than an inch in the snow, your tire pressure may need to be reduced or conditions are not good enough for it to be used.
Hikers, skiers and snowshoe hikers
- Do not use the trail if you breach the manicured surface more than 1 inch
Perry Hill’s management strategies are evaluated for future seasons based on data monitoring and user behavior, so user compliance is critical to a successful long-term outcome.
More information can be found at https://fpr.vermont.gov/recreation/activities/fat-winter-biking or https://www.waterburytrails.com/conditions
The Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) is responsible for the conservation and management of Vermont forest resources, the operation and maintenance of the state park system, and the promotion and support of outdoor recreation for Vermonters and our visitors.
The Waterbury Area Trail Alliance (WATA) is committed to improving and expanding sustainable public walking trails for our local community. Our mission is to build and maintain recreational trails for a healthy, vibrant and sustainable future.
Source: Waterbury, VT – Department for Forests, Parks and Recreation 2.12.2021