Category Archives: PHP in the News

New Executive Director

For Immediate Release 10/12/2018
Contact Bryan Sell
Pine Hill Partnership Executive Director
pine.hill.bryan@gmail.com

The Pine Hill Partnership (PHP) announced that Bryan Sell (Mendon, VT) has been named Executive Director of the organization. PHP is responsible for creating and maintaining the trails in Rutland City’s Pine Hill Park and surrounding trail networks. Sell is PHP’s first executive director.

“We are very excited to have our first executive director,” said Andrew Shinn, President of the Pine Hill Partnership Board of Directors. “Bryan brings a wealth of outdoor knowledge to the organization, and just as important, he has a passion for mountain biking and trail advocacy.”

Bryan has been an avid mountain biker for 26 years and outdoor sports enthusiast for most of his life. He moved here a year and half ago with his family to take advantage of the outdoor recreation activities and culture that is unique to our region. He is married to Emily Feinberg, an ENT physician assistant at Rutland Regional, and has a son Hunter who is 4 years old; both are also very much into mountain biking.

Bryan’s work experience is diverse beginning with a stint in the U.S. Navy and then continuing his education while working as an Earth scientist in various capacities from drilling petroleum wells to working on ice cores for climate change research. Bryan has a PhD in geology from Syracuse University, is currently a part-time faculty member at Castleton University, and part-time snowboard/mountain bike instructor at Killington Resort.

Bryan joined the PHP Board in 2017 in an effort to build a trail from Rutland to Killington and was bamboozled into taking on other responsibilities. He has many years of informal trail building experience and became a student of sustainable trail building practices in 2015 while volunteering with a local International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) chapter in Pennsylvania.

“I’m excited to plant solid roots in a great community and build something positive,” says Sell when asked about why he accepted the position. “My family spends a lot of time in Pine Hill, and I’ve spent my entire career devoted to the mountains and other landscapes. So it feels like a natural fit for me where I can bring all my passions together in one very special place.”

The Pine Hill Partnership is a non-profit formed in 2005 that has the mission of recruiting and organizing volunteers to repair, maintain and improve the non-motorized multi-use trail system in the city park at Pine Hill and adjacent lands. This past summer the Partnership hosted over 20,000 visits to Pine Hill 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

New Skills Track

New skills track right at the front entrance is coming in nicely. It is not quite fully finished but in nice enough condition to ride in its current state. Check out some of the hard work by the local volunteers.

Read all about it at this link:

Pine Hill Partnership creates new skills track

Winter 2018 Wild Times in Pine Hill Park

We hope you enjoy Tom Estill’s exploration of the park in the winter time as much as we do.

Wild Times at Pine Hill Park
Winter, 2018

The official start of Winter in December of 2017 started off with bitterly cold temperatures and a forest covered in a few inches of snow.  Both Rocky and Muddy Ponds were completely covered in ice and snow. Birch seeds lying in the snow were a common site, especially at the base of adult birch trees. Many deer, rodent and carnivore tracks could be found throughout the forest, and many spots could be seen where deer and squirrels had dug through the snow to reach acorns and other food hidden beneath the snow. On a Jan. 2nd hike, the only birds I saw or heard were a hairy woodpecker, crow, and white-breasted nuthatches. I was happy to see porcupine tracks near the power lines on the Carriage Trail leading up to the rocky cliffs. The same cliffs which were the site of active porcupine dens in previous years. While sitting quietly next to the beaver den on the East side of Rocky Pond, I was treated to the sounds of groans of grunts of active beavers inside the den.

One day, during the second week of January, a warm front moved through the area bringing with it showers and temperatures high enough to melt most of the snow. During the night, the rain ended relatively abruptly followed by sub-zero temperatures which froze the water on the ground forming a layer of ice on the ground and a layer of shallow snow on top of the ice. The whole forest was covered in this ice/snow layer. Still, many gray squirrel food caches could be seen dug up in the snow/ice where squirrels were retrieving some of their food stores. On Jan. 14th, the only birds seen on my walk were a small flock of black-capped chickadees. Many rabbit, fox, deer and gray squirrel tracks could be seen.

Jan. 20th was a beautiful day with clear skies and temperatures in the low 40s. Typical winter birds seen included hairy woodpecker, tufted titmouse, pileated woodpecker, downy woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, and white-breasted nuthatch. It was also the first time this season I had seen SNOW FLEAS at the base of many trees. Always a sign to me that the worst of winter was behind us. I came across coyote and deer tracks next to each other and decided to follow them. The tracks led me to a deer carcass. The deer was only partially eaten, so I knew the coyote and other scavengers would be back to finish eating at a later time.


The first week of Feb. found 4” of snow on the ground. White-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, pileated woodpecker, and golden-crowned kinglets were the only birds seen. Both the kinglet and red squirrels were seen at Muddy Pond, which is one of the few places in the park where both those species can be occasionally found. Rodent, deer, coyote and fox tracks a common sight.

On Feb. 11th, 15”of snow was on the ground. Lots of deer and squirrel tracks, and uncovered food caches could be seen throughout park, and the only birds seen were white-breasted nuthatch, crow, and a small flock of common redpoll near the trailhead parking lot. Many signs of active pileated woodpeckers around lower trails.

The third week of Feb. found the area undergoing a warming trend with temperatures reaching 70 degrees F on Feb. 21st. Consequently, many bare ground areas could be found throughout the park. Many streams had flowing water, and Rocky and Muddy Ponds, though completely covered in ice, both had a thin layer of water covering the ice. Even saw a few small midges flying about. Saw a gray squirrel sticking its head out of an old abandoned pileated woodpecker hole, a most endearing sight.

On Feb. 24th, temperatures were back in the low 40s. More and more bare ground was appearing throughout the forest, with only north-facing slopes containing any appreciable amount of snow. Cardinal and tufted-titmouse could both be heard singing. Many gray squirrels seen running throughout the forest. And small areas of open water could be seen along the edges of both beaver dens on Rocky Pond.

The first week of March found a few inches of snow on the ground dropped by a nor’easter which came through the area. Bare spots of ground could be found where that ground was exposed to lots of sunlight. Dark-eyed junco, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, and crow were seen. Both ponds were showing open water in spots around their perimeters.

On March 4th, an otter was seen at Muddy Pond.

3 nor’easters came through the area in March. By mid-March, cold temperatures had returned, both ponds were once again completely frozen over, and there was an average of 8” of snow on the ground. On March 18th, a few days before the official start of spring, birds seen included crow, black-capped chickadee, golden-crowned kinglet, brown creeper and white-breasted nuthatch.

Bobcat were once again photographed in the park. The exact time and location is being kept secret in order to insure their privacy and protection.

That’s it for this season summary. Please stay on the trails and enjoy your wildlife viewing and experiences at Pine Hill Park.

For more of Tom’s reports, check out this page

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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