Category Archives: PHP in the News

Wild times in the park

Tom Estill’s excellent report of fall happenings in the park. Have fun reading!

Wild Times at Pine Hill Park Fall, 2020 Summary

The first day of fall found a very quiet forest, with most migrating birds gone but butterflies, such as the Red Admiral, still flying about and Rocky and Muddy Ponds seeing a buildup in numbers of migrating Canada geese. Great blue herons could still be found at both lakes, and the only other birds I saw this day were black-capped chickadees, blue jays and an ovenbird.

Gray squirrels and Eastern chipmunks continued to be busy collecting acorns for the long winter ahead.

The last week of Sept. found the forest very dry due to lack of rain. Fall foliage season was in its early start, and the number of Canada geese was increasing at Muddy Pond. Along with Canada geese, you could also find double crested cormorants and wood ducks at Muddy Pond. Hermit thrush and many migrating passerines could be seen flying through the forest. Mourning dove, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, downy and hairy woodpeckers were seen. Two young deer were seen near Trail Marker 16, a common sight in this area a good part of summer. The Pearl Crescent and Clouded Sulfur butterflies were also seen.  Acorns dropping in large numbers.

On Oct. 4th, I was greatly disappointed to discover that one of the American Chestnut trees showed signs of being infected with the chestnut blight. But I wasn’t too surprised. American chestnut seedlings grow for about 5 years, then infection sets in. The trees were planted in 2015, so it was time, I guess. I was hoping this one particular tree would do better because it is the only American/Chinese hybrid chestnut tree in the forest. Chinese chestnut trees are immune to the blight and I was hoping some of that immunity would have protected the tree better.

The first week of October found a forest covered in leaves and acorns falling in great numbers. Resident and migrating birds seen included sharp-shinned and broad-winged hawks,

yellow-bellied sapsuckers sucking sap from holes they made in birch trees, least flycatcher, yellow-bellied flycatcher, crow, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmouse,

white-breasted nuthatch, winter wren, red-eyed vireo, solitary vireo, black-throated blue warbler, myrtle warbler, blackburnian warbler and white-throated sparrow. About 50 geese were seen at Rocky Pond, and near 200 seen at Muddy Pond.

On Oct. 11th, Canada geese were still numerous at both ponds, leaves were still falling, the ground was covered with acorns, and a myrtle warbler and yellow-throated vireo were seen flying about.

Oct. 17th was a glorious fall day. Leaves were still falling, with most leaves gone from their limbs. Robins were migrating through the forest in large numbers, and others migrants including, solitary vireo, northern flicker, white-throated sparrow and hermit thrush could also be seen. Squirrels and chipmunks were out in large numbers collecting acorns, and Muddy Pond now had hundreds of migrating Canada geese resting there.

By the last week of October, most of the leaves were off the trees at this point, with the exception of beech and oaks. Flocks of robins were still migrating through the forest, and just a few other migrants were seen including, solitary vireo, yellow-throated vireo and yellow-bellied sapsucker. Hundreds of geese still resting at Muddy Pond.

On the last day of October, I saw only a few blue jays and winter wrens, but hundreds of geese still at Muddy Pond. I did come upon a pair of ruffed grouse, and using my bird call AP was able to call them close to my location until a dog, off its leash, came running up to me, scaring off the birds. LEASH YOUR DOGS!!!!!!!

November 8th found a daytime temperature of near 70 degrees F. Most leaves were gone from oak trees, and the forest seemed so barren. Hundreds of geese still seen at Muddy Pond, and only year-round resident birds including, blue jay, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, hairy woodpecker, pileated woodpecker, were seen. Chipmunks and gray squirrels seen in large numbers.

By mid-November, the forest had become very quiet. On Nov. 15th, I saw only white-breasted nuthatch, black-capped chickadees, and crows flying overhead. The geese at Muddy and Rocky Ponds were all gone.

On Nov. 11th, ice was starting to appear around the perimeter of Muddy Pond, while Rocky Pond was free of ice. It wasn’t until Nov. 22 that a thin sheet of ice was starting to cover parts of Rocky Pond.  Squirrels and Gray Squirrels were still out and about.  Loose associations of winter birds were starting to appear. One such association included hairy and downy woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches and tufted titmouse.

Dec. 5th brought to the area its first Nor’easter of the season. Ice had disappeared from both ponds, no birds were seen on my walk that day, and there was a light rain.

Dec. 7th found both Rocky and Muddy Ponds completely frozen over.

That’s it for this issue. Please stay on the trails and enjoy the wildlife of Pine Hill Park.

PHP AWARDED Loyal to our soil grant

We are proud recipients of the Loyal to Our Soil Grant sponsored by Ranch Camp, MTBVT, and Specialized Bikes. Last summer Ranch Camp held two raffles for Loyal to Our Soil Grant. Specialized donated two bikes for the raffle, tickets were $100 each. Also, Ranch Camp donated, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every bike sold in 2020 toward the grant.

We are one of 5 groups to receive this grant. This will help us pay for a VT Youth Conservation Corp group to build Maximum Capacity, our next trail construction project.

A big thank you to Ranch Camp, Specialized Bikes, and MTBVT! #ranchcampvt #specializedbikes #mtbvt

WE’RE DIGGING IN !

Update October 28, 2020: We received a check from IMBA/Shimano for $2300. to help pay for the VYCC crew we had in the park the end of July. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this fund.

We have been selected as one of 10 recipients of the IMBA Dig In Grant program. With the support of Shimano, IMBA is doing a grant to pay for trail building at Pine Hill Park. Read the announcement from IMBA here.

This program will help us raise money needed for the VT Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) to come in at the end of July and help finish off a couple of trails in the park that volunteers have been working on. (map below)

Thanks to COVID-19, large volunteer groups are not happening in 2020. VYCC will be a big help, but we will have to pay for their services.

Our newest trail, Milk Run, was started in 2018 with the help of volunteers. At the end of July we are having VYCC come in and hope to use their time to get all the organic material off so that we can open the trail up to the top of Upper Halfpipe. This is about 1500′ of organic top layer to be removed.

Why remove organic in Pine Hill Park? We have found for long term sustainability, our trails hold up better by removing it early. Early on in our learning process of building trails we would do a ‘rake and ride’. Those trails now have been rebuilt at least once if not twice.

If you’d like to help us with this effort, please consider making a donation here. As always, thank you for your support!

Opportunities to volunteer

Anyone is welcome to join us on these days. We will be working on the new trail that was started last year. Plus some maintenance work on other trails in the park.

YES Plan from Rutland High School will be in on these dates:

June 5th, meet at front entrance at 9:15

June 7th, meet at front entrance at 9:15

June 10th, meet at front entrance at 9:15

June 11th, meet at front entrance at 9:15

June 12th, meet at front entrance at 9:15

June 17th and 18th starts Youth Works. Meet at the front entrance at 9:15.

June 24th and 25th is Youth Works meet at front entrance at 9:15.

July 1st and 2nd is Youth Works meet at front entrance at 9:15

July 15th and 16th is Youth Works meet at the front entrance at 9:15

July 22 and 23rd is Youth Works meet at the front entrance at 9:15.


economic impacts of pine hill reported

We had great Annual meeting on Monday, March 25th. A group of 50+ members and general public heard first hand about our accomplishments this past year and about some of our plans for 2019.

We also revealed the initial results of the user surveys and trail counter data collected between April 2018 and March 2019. Our conservative estimates are that the visitors to the Park contribute over $1.3 million to the Rutland area economy!

A discussion session led to lots of great ideas. Hopefully we can move forward with some of the great suggestions and enthusiasm that were present in the room!

We want to thank the following business and organizations that donated items for our raffle: MTBVT, Alpine Bike Works, Basin Ski Shop, First Stop Ski Shop and Killington Bike Park.

For more detail about the meeting you can read the Meeting Minutes and watch the PowerPoint Presentation. Vermont Public Radio reported about the meeting which you can listen to and read here.

Here’s to a great season of playing in the Park!

IMBA National Award

RUTLAND’S SHELLEY LUTZ RECEIVES INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN BIKING ASSOCIATION VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD

BENTONVILLE, Arkansas (Oct. 29, 2018) — The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has presented Shelley Lutz (Center Rutland, Vt.) with the 2018  “Scott “Superman” Scudamore Volunteer Leadership Award” for her relentless and selfless service to her community. Lutz is one of the founding members of the Pine Hill Partnership and currently serves as the organization’s secretary.

The award honors outstanding volunteers who are making a significant contribution to the mountain bicycling community. IMBA received more than 20 nominations from all ten regions in the United States.

“I may seem biased when I say this, but I am continually learning that Shelley Lutz has done more for mountain biking in Vermont than any one person I’ve yet to meet,” said Bryan Sell, executive director of the Pine Hill Partnership. “She is the backbone of the trails in Pine Hill, which has achieved a cult-like status among mountain bikers and would not exist without her efforts.”

“Also, consider that growth in the sport is in no small part being driven by women and children, and Shelley has been a leader since the early days of mountain biking. Again, I do not know of any other woman who has done so much to get women and children pedaling on trails. I think that few of our residents appreciate how uncommon it is to see so many women and children on mountain bike trails, so this honor is as good for Rutland as it is for Shelley.”

Lutz has devoted thousands of hours to Pine Hill Partnership since the organization’s start in 2006. For over 25 years, she mountain biked, hiked, and skied in Pine Hill, and helped to layout, create, and maintain the trail network that we know today. In addition to trail work and organizing work days, Lutz has led a women’s mountain bike clinic and youth mountain bike clinic in Pine Hill Park for the past 10 years. She also has helped other trail advocacy groups in the region begin and grow their trail networks. Lutz exemplifies the Scott “Superman” Scudamore attitude of getting everyone she meets to volunteer in the Park.

Lutz has lived in the Rutland area since graduating from Castleton University in 1975. She worked for UPS for 36 years before retiring in 2011.

Scott “Superman Scud” Scudamore was a retired Air Force Captain who exemplified mountain bike volunteerism through his work with the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiast.. Scud’s specialty was introducing new riders to mountain biking advocacy and to the efforts needed from local voices to ensure the sustainability of off-road trail networks to the growing population of outdoor enthusiasts.

Lutz was presented with the award at IMBA’s 30th anniversary party in Bentonville, Arkansas, on Saturday, October 27.

ABOUT PINE HILL PARTNERSHIP

The Pine Hill Partnership is a non-profit formed in 2006 to create, build, and maintain trails in Pine Hill and surrounding areas. The organization raises money for trail projects, recruits and organizes volunteers to repair, maintain and improve the non-motorized multi-use trail system in the city park at Pine Hill and adjacent lands. The Partnership also volunteers for the youth and women’s mountain bike programs that are run through Rutland’s Recreation Department, and also to help with the Rutland Go Play races in the park. This past summer the Partnership hosted over 20,000 visits to Pine Hill Park, either pedestrian or biking. New for winter 2018-2019, the Partnership will be winter grooming on some trails for fat bikes, hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers.

ABOUT IMBA

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is the worldwide leader in mountain bike advocacy, and the only organization in the U.S. focused entirely on trails and access, for all types of mountain bikers in all parts of the country. Since 1988, they have taught and encouraged low-impact riding, grassroots advocacy, sustainable trail design, innovative land management practices and cooperation among trail user groups. IMBA U.S. is a national network of local groups, individual riders and passionate volunteers working together for the benefit of the entire community. They are focused on the quantity and quality of mountain bike trail communities as the catalyzer, resource provider, and builder of more trails close to home.

https://www.imba.com/press-release/2018-advocacy-awards

Powerlines in the park

Green Mountain Power will be working on the powerlines in the park this winter. Please DO NOT park at the end of Evergreen Ave starting Tuesday, December 27th till the end of February. GMP will be moving in large machinery and stone and need room to move vehicles.

Mountain bikers be aware on Underdog as GMP will be putting a very large mat down across the trail to move machinery. This will protect the trail.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Opportunity for Rutland County Trails

RUTLAND: STRIDES & RIDES | By KIMBERLY GRIFFIN

Have you ever wondered how parks and other outdoor “natural” recreational venues are created? Often, as I walk among the trees and over the rocks on our region’s trails, I try to imagine the shovels and rakes, chainsaws and axes that many a hand must have wielded in order to create a path for my boots to traverse. And if I am really in a state of imagination, I try to trace the work even further back in time to the meetings and the sketches and the friendly — and sometimes not so friendly — arguments over land ownership and rights-of-way and fundraising and promotion that surely must have occurred long before a shovel ever touched the earth.

For many long-time Rutland City residents, the transformation of the area that is now Pine Hill Park is the one illustration of such work. Surely the same can be said for the Pittsford trails, the D & H trail, Northwood Park, and the many other recreational networks in our community.

As part of the work RAPAC is doing with the Rutland Regional Planning Commission under the Vermont Department of Health’s Healthy Community Design Grant, I was recently part of a meeting just like I imagined. Folks from the Pine Hill Partnership board, regional commissioners from Mendon and Hubbardton, and local citizens all came together on June 15 to pour over a map of the region; assessing existing trail networks, deciphering what plots of land are public or private, and coming up with dream trail connections to join towns or peaks, or just continue a trail past its current termination.

I was in awe of the knowledge each of these individuals carried about the woods and the back roads and the mountains in our region. As a group, there was seemingly no rock, no old bridge, no bend in the river that wasn’t familiar. And so, as we began to look dreamily at the potential for expanding and connecting the regional trail system, it felt as though the sky was the limit.

One such dream that is quickly becoming a reality, is the proposed Jim Jeffords State Forest. Linking Coolidge State Forest and Aitken State Forest in Mendon and Shrewsbury; the 100,000+ acre land conservation project will not only provide our region with over ten miles of hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowmobile trails, it will also offer conserved habitat for Vermont wildlife such as moose, deer, turkey, bear, trout, songbirds and more, providing a resource to hunters, anglers and birdwatchers as well.

Acquisition of this land is currently being managed by the Trust for Public Land, along with a group of volunteers. A significant portion of private land has already been donated, and some funding to support more land procurement has been secured through private donation and public grants. The project team is currently working on a campaign to raise the remaining funds for the forest. For more information on the Jeffords State Forest, contact Kate Wanner at the Trust for Public Land: kate.wanner@tpl.org.

While the Jeffords State Forest is one example of the beginnings of a new park/maintained intentional recreation space, it isn’t the only. June 15th’s meeting yielded quite a few new dreams; listing Class 4 roadways as potential mountain biking paths, revisiting old rail beds, and even highlighting Otter Creek as a water trail for canoeing and kayaking were all just bits of thought to be sorted, mapped and explored in the (hopefully near) future.

We are so fortunate to live in a state where opportunities for outdoor, exploratory recreation are virtually everywhere. I look forward to the continuance and further development of such opportunity for myself and generations to come.

Kimberly Griffin is the Director of the Rutland Area Physical Activity Coalition (RAPAC) whose mission is to promote and increase bicycle and pedestrian activity in Rutland County.
E-MAIL: kimberly.rapac@gmail.com

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