Perry Hill Winter Recreation Management Pilot Program Announced

12 February 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 12, 2021

CONTACT:

Jessica Savage, Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation

802-249-1230 | jessica.savage@vermont.gov

John Duston, Waterbury Area Trails Alliance

802-696-2024 | waterburytrails@gmail.com

 

Perry Hill Winter Recreation Management Pilot Program Announced

Waterbury, VT – The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR), which owns and manages the Perry Hill Block within the CC Putnam State Forest, announces a pilot winter recreation management program which aims to reduce negative impacts to wildlife while providing an enjoyable winter recreational experience to the public. FPR will be partnering with the town of Waterbury and the Waterbury Area Trails Alliance (WATA) to provide groomed fat bike, snowshoe, ski, and pedestrian access to select trails.

“We are excited to provide groomed trails at Perry Hill,” said FPR Commissioner Michael Snyder. “At the same time, we are seeking to balance this important recreational opportunity with a portion of the parcel which will be primarily dedicated to minimizing negative impacts to wintering deer.”

Much of Perry Hill is a functioning deer wintering area. During winter months, deer have limited food supplies and survive on fat reserves. Deer wintering areas provide locations with consistent evergreen canopy cover which reduces snow load and provides shelter, minimizing energy demand on deer. In recent years FPR has observed more trail use in the winter which is spurring this experimental management action to reduce the effects of winter recreation on winter survival of deer.

In this pilot program two zones have been established at Perry Hill: a designated winter recreation zone and a designated deer wintering zone. The winter recreation zone will focus on creating the ideal trail tread to accommodate fat biking, snow shoeing, and cross-country skiing. Dispersed pedestrian recreation will not be 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 will be identified on the ground with signs. Information about the management objectives and user ethics at Perry Hill will be available on interpretive panels at the trailhead kiosk.

“The decision to manage a portion of the Perry Hill trail system for winter recreational access is a rare decision on ANR lands representing a compromise to proactively manage for winter recreational access in a deer wintering area,” said Snyder. “The public access benefits Perry Hill provides, including the parcel’s proximity to a population center, and the large area of the property which is deer wintering area represent an opportunity to demonstrate a balanced land management approach.”

“Our goal is to establish an area which will concentrate the winter use with the intention of creating an area of the parcel less likely to receive recreational activity,” said Walter Opuszynski, FPR Forest Recreation Specialist. “Trail use will be monitored to determine if the management actions are effective. We ask the public to respect the signage and learn about how to minimize their impacts to wildlife.”

The Waterbury Area Trails Alliance (WATA) is the nonprofit trail organization which helps FPR manage the trails at Perry Hill. This winter, they will be supporting the signage, public information, and trail grooming. In addition, local outdoor gear shop Bicycle Express will be offering grooming support along with helping collect data.

“It is our hopes that through this pilot effort we can find a way for the winter recreation use occurring at Perry Hill to have less of an impact to wildlife by concentrating impacts,” said WATA Board President John Duston. “Our community relies on the ability to enjoy the forests for our physical and mental health. Our native species rely on having quality areas to roam during the winter months.”

FPR has established the following guidelines for user behavior:

All Recreation User Groups

  • Respect the established deer wintering zone by staying on groomed trails. Please focus your recreation activity on the following trail corridors: Main Climb, Campfire, S’Mores, Joe’s, Six Flags, and Duct Tape (see attached map). Staying on these trails will help improve the function of the deer wintering zone on the eastern side of the parcel.
  • Please respect all COVID-19 guidance: https://fpr.vermont.gov/recreation/outdoor-recreation-and-covid-19
  • Dogs: It is important to leash your dogs or leave them at home. Dogs can chase wildlife and cause them additional stress during a very vulnerable time of year. 

Cyclists

  • Minimum Tire Width is 3.8” inches with a psi between 2-8 lbs.
  • Help keep the groomed surface in good condition by refraining from riding in soft conditions. If your tire sinks more than an inch into the snow, your tire pressure may need to be reduced or conditions are not adequate for use.

Hikers, Skiers and Snowshoers

  • Do not use the trail if you are breaking through the groomed surface more than 1” inch

The management strategies at Perry Hill will be evaluated for future seasons based on data monitoring and user behavior, making user compliance to guidelines pivotal to a successful long-term outcome.

For more information, please visit 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’s 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 the improvement and expansion of sustainable public trails for our local community. Our mission is building and maintaining recreational trails for a healthy, vibrant & sustainable future.