Saturday, December 15, 2007
They will have a long winter of digging ahead, whether in the forests for nuts, or fields for corn. Every inch that falls is an inch farther for a turkey from its source of food. The snow also makes them more suceptible to predators. They can't run well in deep snow, and need the running room to take off. Flight whether to a nearby roost or just to a new location, is how they escape.
So it looks like a long winter ahead for the turkeys. Hopefully a few find some feeders put out by kind folks. Beware the few that often find themselves wandering into roadways. This will be a winter that requires as many turkeys to survive as possible, in order to rebuild the population. Many will die in the snow.
This week I had the unfortunate event of being stuck in traffic on the Sandbar on the way to work. It's a rather beautiful place to get stuck, with the snow falling on recently frozen ice. Steam rising off the open lake right through the falling snow up into the clouds. An occasional gull, crow or diving duck would cross over the bridge in flight. All except for the line of cars front and back as far as the eye could see.
It got me thinking again about the many traffic chokepoints throughout Route 2 in the Islands. Places where there is no way around, like the Sandbar, the Drawbridge, City Beach/Birdland, the NH-Alburgh bridge, the ILM-Alburgh bridge. Accidents and traffic in these places impede the ability of first responders to provide mutual aid to other towns, and ambulances in getting to Burlington. Besides that a great number of us work in Chitttenden County, and that Sandbar is the lifeblood of Grand Isle Counties economy.
A few weeks ago my concern about the drawbridge and lack of public information led me to draft a letter to the Governor. He forwarded it to the Transportation Secretary who in turn forwarded it to the Project Manager of the drawbridge who finally answered. I was surprised that the state had considered running a ferry while the bridge was being repaired. Even more so that they considered closing the bridge, the very heart of our county, for the duration of the repairs.
A new legislative session is upon us, let our representation know that transportation in the Champlain Islands needs to be at the top of their agendas. Too many decisions are being made that directly affect us, without any public involvement. That it was considered to even temporarily divide our county into north and south should be a wake up call. Complain, please! To Representatives Johnson and Trombley, and Senator Mazza who chairs transportation. The Governor, the Lt. Governor, the Transportation Secretary, your neighbor, the local selectboard, and anyone who'll listen. Obviously unless we make noise we'll just be forgotten and the State will do whatever it wants, without input from Islanders.
Jason M. Brisson
North Hero, Vt.
Thank You Mr. Brisson for the permission to post this on the site. Hopefully it will help bring awareness to this obviously important issue!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
No joke here, if I hadn't seen it myself I'd never believed it. It was the queerest of creatures I've ever seen. An antlered doe, and chances are I'll never see one again. Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Biologists estimate that out of twelve thousand deer in the Green Mountain State shot annually, only two are antlered does.
The lucky hunter was Joe St. Lawrence of Isle La Motte. He had been hunting in a treestand in a area with other relatives nearby. He saw the deer at 30 yards and realizing the long kicker on the main beam made it a legal deer, decided to shoot. Upon firing his gun an eight and a six pointer jumped up from nearby as well and ran.
Unable to find the deer on a primary search, Joe returned with relatives to look again. They found the deer, and to their astonishment saw velvet on the antler. It wasn't until a relative suggested that Joe to lift the leg that they realized the roughly 160 pound buck was really a doe. It had full female genitalia, and a dramatic overbite.
The deer also had a back leg that appeared to have been broken, as if hit by a car, and then healed straight. It made for an odd track that when combined with a curved hoove made a deep sliding groove. Joe recognized it immediately as a deer he had seen the tracks of in the area the preceding couple years.
Its interesting the odds of shooting a monster buck in Vermont are better than shooting an antlered doe.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
In the hundreds of times I’ve driven by it, I never really thought that much about the place. It was just always this bridge over the road that a bunch of people parked around. Occasionally I’d see a fishermen scoot across the road with a pole and bucket. It’s a relatively small area that contains a lake floodplain ecosystem, old river oxbows, mature trees, and about 1800 feet of shoreline. The Lake Champlain Land Trust press packet quotes Rod Vallee of Georgia as saying that “ Mill River Falls is one of the most important natural areas left in Georgia .”
Thanks to the diligent work of the LCLT and Georgia Conservation Commission the public will always be able to access this site. Future generations will forever be able to access this property as it is one of Vermont ’s newest additions to the list of state lands. “We had discussions with Anna Neville about conserving her property stretching back seven years before she generously donated her land to us in 2003,” states Chris Boget, assistant director of LCLT. He continues, “We retained a conservation easement and donated the land to the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.” The Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation website lists the 35 acre parcel as Mill River Falls State Forest .
The area provides more than permanent recreational opportunities for paddlers, hikers, fishermen, and hunters on Lake Champlain . It is habitat for many different creatures at different times of the year. Mill River is one of only a few places where Steelhead, or lake dwelling Rainbow Trout, are known to spawn. Four rare plant and three rare fish species call the Mill River Falls home. Large dead snags provide nest sites for wood ducks and mergansers. The marshes in spring are productive fish spawning and feeding areas. Mill River Falls is abundant with wildlife habitat.
When I first visited the place, two fathers had spread their kids out on the banks with fishing poles. Rock Bass and Pumpkinseed were biting today, the crappie action hot the day before. I rounded a corner in the trail to see fresh deer tracks, and was overwhelmed by the bird calls in the canopy above. It seems the place has enough to please everyone, except for parking.
Right now everyone has to pull off on Mill River Road or next to the bridge. The LCLT website says that a sign and better parking are in the works. Access is a bit hidden, one has to walk a bit down the Pines Road a couple yards to access the trailhead on the right. What a splendid place for a short stroll it makes. Apparently the only question remaining with the property is what to call it.
The LCLT lists it as a natural area on it’s website. Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Forest, Parks, and Recreation lists it on their website as a state forest. I figured I’d ask whether it will be a state forest, park, or natural area. The folks at FPR told me to get in touch with their forester, the people at LCLT referred me to the same person. So I got in touch with Gary Sawyer the State Lands Stewardship Forester who said, “I don’t know what designation the Mill River Falls parcel will receive.” With natural beauty abound, Mill River Falls will forever remain publicly accessible, whether it be state forest, park, or natural area.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Now I have no guilt harvesting and eating mushrooms because for me its like eating apples off a tree. The mycorhizae are like the underground tree, its not really destroying anything but seeds. I have a tendency to wander the forest and watch the ground as I walk a lot. I discovered fungi a few years ago. But to everyone else I say; Do Not Eat Mushrooms.
Fall is peak time for Oyster Mushrooms and Boletes, and especially my favorites; the puffball family. Do Not Eat Mushrooms. But I do.
Giant puffballs are those huge white semi-globes that pop up in fields and woodlands. If you cut across it entirely and its milky white, with NO YELLOW, I grill it. Cut it into huge steaks, but do not marinate, it ruins. Just grill it with a little steak seasoning though.
Gem-Studded Puffballs I usually find growing around rocks in colonies. They are again milky white, but shaped like a hot ait balloon from the side. Their tops are rough, and almost like they've been sprinkled with a white grit. Slice them up with a little butter and cook in a pan. My favorite is on the grill in aluminum foil.
Always check the stem, bottom, and wash the mushroom. Don't and you'll know why.
Do Not Eat Mushrooms.
This is more than an inconvenience for Grand Isle County, as Route 2 is the only north/south connecting road through the islands. Traffic bottlenecks have already been had, but the concern is the ability of the island communties emergency responders to cross during periods of high volume traffic. This is more than a hindrance for the two communities on one side, and three communities on the other who rely on the ability to provide mutual aid.
Word about town is that it will be four years before the bridge can be replaced. Studies need to be done, etc. The sad part is it was known that this bridge was in decline, long before the incident occurred to the west that caused all bridges to be checked. This bridge is so old the book "History of South Hero Island", shows a picture of it with an out house attached to the back. Deposits were quick and direct to the lake.
This is a serious issue facing an entire Vermont county, and needs to be at the forefront of everyone's minds. Four years is too long. There are several of these traffic choke points throughout US Route 2 as you travel through the Champlain Islands. This is the fastest growing county in the state of Vermont, it needs to be treated better than the bastard child of Chittenden County.
I implore any and all, if you see Governor Jim Douglas, ask about that drawbridge in Grand Isle? If you see Representatives Mitzi Johnson or Ira Trombley, ask what they are doing to get the drawbridge fixed? If you run across Senator Dick Mazza, ask him why his constituents have to travel every day over an unsafe bridge, when he is the Chair of the Senate Transportation committee?
Saturday, July 7, 2007
More obligate Isle La Motte news. Yep, there was more to the story on that last vote for town clerk/treasurer than we were all led to believe. WCAX and The Burlington Free Press alluded to write-in votes in their coverage. It turns out those write-in votes meant former Town Clerk and Treasurer Suzanne LaBombard came in second in the vote for town clerk. Apparently she was heftily beat for town treasurer by several other candidates.
In the days of bait piles, it was a warm October afternoon early in bow season. You never know what’s going to come into the apple pile, and this day was no different. I’d been watching squirrel after squirrel, red and gray go by. I used to bring pebbles out so I could mess with them, when they have their back turned their tail shields their eyes. I’d flick a pebble at it, usually I’d miss, but today I ricocheted one off a tree and it landed in front of two red squirrels. They hopped into trees in front of me, and began barking up a racket. The commotion caused a red fox to venture down the field edge to my left.
So into the mix I licked my lips and began to make little mousy chirp sounds, then a few chickadee songs. The fox came right in and walked all over. Under my treestand, around the bait pile, and paused under the tree where the squirrels were. It kind of seemed to shake its head, and then the seemingly confused fox turned back to the field. Instead of heading back the way it came, it proceeded on across the field to a pasture.
I thought great, he just spread his scent everywhere, and the deer aren’t going to smell me one bit. A few minutes later some blue jays came by, and then the squirrels were back at work. The sun was getting lower in the sky now, about an hour until dark. That was when I heard it. First a rustle of leaves 50 yards in front of me, then another shortly after. My heart was pounding, something was coming in slow, and cautious.
Closer the rustling came, with a very steady pause between each. I looked to where the noise was coming from, but couldn’t see anything. Closer, closer it came. Finally the noise was right in front of me, but I still couldn’t make out anything. All of a sudden the fattest little cottontail rabbit hopped out onto the bait pile in front of me. So fat had it not been fear of spoiling because it was so warm out, I’d have arrowed it for certain. I grinned to myself thinking what’ve happened had the fox been late or the rabbit early. As I turned right to look around, that’s when I first saw it.
I’d been so pre-occupied and intent on the rabbit, I hadn’t seen the little yearling deer sneak in on my right. It was the flick of the tail that alerted me to its presence, as it sauntered around some evergreen trees encircling the baitpile. Following about another hundred yards behind came another yearling, and a doe. Pretty soon all three were feeding on the apples. I was surprised that after only a few minutes they picked up their heads as if thinking about heading out. I thought about arrowing the doe, but I had noticed she had this habit of looking behind her every so often.
The sun was beginning to set, leaving about a half hour left to the hunting day. That’s when I heard a step, and then another, in the direction from which the doe and yearlings had come. My luck held as my scent was being pushed the opposite direction out over the field. I just stayed very still and tried not to let the deer hear the pounding in my chest when I saw the four points. It was a buck!
It was an educated deer though, because it kept the brush between me and him. I couldn’t get a shot, and then he paused on the backside of my baitpile behind a tree. All of a sudden I hear a car driving down the road laying on its horn. For a long distance before and after my tree stand the horn blew, but as it rounded the bend by where my truck was, I was shocked. I could distinctly hear a female voice yelling “you big bad hunters, why don’t you go pick on someone your own f***ing size” as the car continued down the road.
Needless to say the deer was on edge from the horn, but the yelling was too much. Hell, I just about jumped out of the tree when I heard the yelling, sounded like she was right there in the tree with me. I never even really saw or heard the buck take off. I only caught a flicker of white off in the distance.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
In his younger days Francis could be found in the fields, whether weeding by day or hoeing at night. More recently Francis could be found on his front porch selling vegetables, and talking with customers. Mr. Montani departs this world just shy of a hundred years.
It's too bad we don't get tax breaks for being a good person, or a good citizen. Like people who volunteer on fire/rescue departments. The affluent continue to get wealthy by investing, spending, saving and the money comes in, albeit some risk is involved. A good person gets good by doing, well, good things. Which has more benefit in this world? Which gets more respect?
Our societal scale says you're important if you have money, and if you don't you're a nobody, unimportant. Saint Peter has a different scale if you're into that religious stuff. Truth be told it's probably the only one that really matters. You bring your sins with you, not your wealth. I guess I kind of believe in a blend of faiths.
My biggest hope is that if I tread lightly and try to help others that I may be reincarnated as a forest creature. Preferably something like an owl or pileated woodpecker, or something else that doesn't have a hunting season. In American life there are three certainties; your are born, you pay taxes, you die. We need to learn to celebrate that which we have in common; our humanity.
This past Wednesday the settlement was passed by the selectboard, with one abstention which we all know counts toward the majority. With the addition of some words at an executive session the night before, the lawyer for the townspeople suing the town and selectboard members, said it would appease his clients. May that poor town once again return to its sleepy existance.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Today it's the silver bullet that is bringing down the Green Mountain State. As more people discovered they like the seclusion, these second homes became year-round estates. Then they began to spread from uphills, to lowlands, to lakesides and riversides. It seems everyone wants a piece of Vermont's unspoiled environment. Problem was instead of developing sustainable jobs, we were content to deal with seasonal fluxes of employment. Over time this has had a devastating effect on Vermont's economy.
It's curious that land is now more valuable for developing houses than for growing crops. We've got places to put up homes, but have to import our food from all over the globe. Vermont loses its youth to other states because it's a competitive job market, one that wants experience. Something you can't get if no one hires you. We wonder why the Vermont of today is so very different from that of yesteryear.
Today very few of the kids growing up and being educated in Vermont schools can expect to live out their lives in the Green Mountains. Vermont also has an unstable age structure, with more and more of it's population aging and on fixed incomes. We have bypassed the day when we just can keep raising taxes and expect problems to work themselves out. The two things we need most now are heart and foresight in Vermont's government.
Planning for the future is no easy task, but the time is now for action. Vermonters shouldn't be punished for their families not having bought enough land in the past for future generations to settle on. It shouldn't be an us versus them with newcomers. There must be an equitable way to ensure Vermonts future, one that is fair to all those who wish to call the Green Mountain State home.
Friday, May 11, 2007
I've also been into the wild leeks or ramps as their known in some parts of the country. They tend to grow in colonies and have big bladed leaves. As soon as spring is over they flower, dry up and die till next year. They have an unmistakably strong onion smell. I've been kind of working on this theory that native americans actually gardened the wild leeks, by digging them up and transplanting to start new colonies. I'm just not sure how to go about proving it.
The last of springs big three are Morels, a type of mushroom that only grows in spring. They look like a mushroom brain on a stem. They are very delicate, but also some of the best mushrooms I've ever had. I haven't seen any out yet, but look for them in old burned over areas, and abandoned apple orchards. I avoid the orchards though because of the risk of pesticides. A hundred years ago they sprayed trees with arsenic and I just don't like the idea of putting that or any other pesticide in my body.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
As local lore goes the morning after Benedict Arnold escaped from behind Valcour Island with what was left of his small fleet, it was very foggy on Lake Champlain. Not believing the Americans could have slipped by them in the dark (which they did), the British patrolled to the north and east searching. In the heavy fog they sighted a ship and summarily lined up and pounded it with their cannons. Of course once you begin firing blackpowder you can't see what you're shooting at. After a half hour to hour of not being fired back at, either a breeze came up or the fog burned off. It was then the British realized they had not been firing on a ship.
This distraction is what allowed Arnold to escape to the shores of Addison county where he then proceeded to burn his fleet to prevent capture. Local lore goes further to say that local Islanders felled logs and floated them out and were then hoisted on the small island to look like masts. I dismiss this as there is no way anyone on the islands could have been in contact with Arnold's fleet, or known their plan to escape.
The problem is only one book I've ever read about Arnold or the Revolutionary war confirms this. No less than a dozen others completely fail to mention "Carleton's Prize". They all say the British fleet sailed down the lake after Arnolds fleet. Talk about a project for Art Cohn and the others down at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. All we need to do is find a few cannonballs to confirm the story. To think, Lake Champlain has kept this mystery to herself even to this day.
Monday, May 7, 2007
So here's another tidbit, the state has tested ticks around the state. Something like 26% of the ticks around Bennington tested positives for carrying disease. The hotspot is Butler island on lake champlain. Privately owned, but 49% of the ticks tested positive. I would imagine nearby areas are pretty bad too. Apparently the worst place on the island was this guys garden of lilies.
Be vigilant and check yourselves after any trip into field or forest. Your best chance is to remove the tick within 24-36 hours before the spirochete is transferred into the wound. After that the risk of contracting lyme disease goes up. Check the state health department website for more info, and your doctor. Especially if the bite area begins to look like a bullseye.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
The Public Service Board has shown that it is way out of step with the interests of Vermonters. It has sided with energy over environment. By not providing the funding for removal of the Peterson Dam, it has further set back the date by which historical spawning areas can return to the Lamoille River. It will take years to bring the Lake Sturgeon population back to the point of recovery.
A healthy environment is on the minds of Vermonters these days. As economical as it may be to run the dam, the costs to fish are too tremendous. According to the Burlington Free Press 12/28/06 the dam only serves 3,000 customers. Not to mention there is another dam a mile or so upstream, so what’s at stake is a critical mile or so piece of prime spawning habitat.
The Lake Sturgeon faces a very real threat to its continued existence in Lake Champlain. The benefit it’d bring to other species like Walleye and Trout would be tremendous. We spend all kinds of money to rear these fish and release them into the lake instead of letting nature do it for free.
One has to look no further than the Winooski River to find an answer. There you have run of the water hydropower at the Champlain Mill area of Winooski, followed by a larger fish obstructing dam a mile or so upstream. The operators of the mill dams use fish baskets to lift the fish over, and get them to the spawning grounds.
Why not replace the Peterson dam with run of the water hydropower for the customers, while at the same time allowing for better fish-passage? How about constructing a fish ladder since the dam is to now be left in place? How about setting up the farmers in West Milton with anaerobic digesters to create electricity from manure to replace the electricity lost by the dam? Why not begin taking steps now to ensure decommission and eventual removal at a future date? Or are we still dragging our feet in hopes of leaving the dam in place?
To me, anything would seem a plausible alternative to doing nothing.
Friday, April 27, 2007
The value of a tree goes way beyond what importance humans may place upon it. Take a stroll through the woods sometime and you will see what I mean. A pile of evergreen cones shaved by a red squirrel here, the remnants of bitternuts and a gray squirrels cache there. The torn up ground under an oak tree where a deer was using its hooves to rake acorns. A big hollow up a dead tree where a raccoon has chosen to raise its family.
Every tree tells a story about the environment in which it resides. Stunted from lack of sun, or drowned by too much water. Witches broom from overbrowsing by deer and moose. Uprooted by wind an wet soils. Fire marks, and porcupine chewed. There are those that sprout various barbed wire out each side marking the edge of an old pasture.
Trees serve humans in many ways. They can be planted as windbreaks or for shade, depending if you want warm in winter or cool on summer. Fruit trees provide food and steady income for some. Others are planted to restore or preserve lake and streambanks. Trees give us clean air and quality lumber.
If anyone's bought lumber recently they understand the toll natural disasters take. Wood has to come from somewhere and if the supply doesn't go up, the prices will. I guess its what humans get for trying to create permanent fixtures in an impermanent, and everchanging world. This is why planting trees is important and demonstrates foresight.
If you plant a tree today its performing future community service. you are helping your kids, grandkids, and their kids, to have clean air in the future. Our forests act like big scrubbers taking in carbon dioxide, and releasing oxygen. Please plant a tree today and do some future community service.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I'll be back at it soon, first I've got to fillet the 60 or so bullpout I caught the other night. Some for my grandfather, parents, in-laws, sister's family, and other sisters family. Right now they're in water filled tubs that I keep changing the water in. I swear it makes them taste even better. There's a reason they call bullpout the fillet mignon of the fish world.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
Communalism is when neighbors and communities work together, interact, and communicate. When you know your neighbor, you know how bad the times really are. Divide and conquer, if people are talking to each other they're not divided. This is how communication undermines the control of large populations, but how would someone stop people from having conversations? What if another means of communication were available, an artificial means of providing information (or disinformation) to people? Now they know all of what's going on so they don't have to leave their homes and talk to their neighbors.
Enter the newspaper, radio and the television set. What if one could influence and control media? Knowing that it's the means by which people who lead busy productive consumer driven lives working for the private sector stay informed? They rely on the media as a means of communication to know how their neighbors are doing, because they never see them anymore. The public believes in the freedom of the press, and trust that because its free, it's without influence and truthful. The question you ought to be asking is who owns the media, and are you willing to let the media tell you how your neighbor is doing, instead of asking them yourself?
Individualism promotes self-reliance and a self-first attitude that puts people, families, communities, and states in competition with each other. People compete for better educations, to get better jobs, to make more money. the goal of every parent is to help their kid get ahead. In our modern democratic society you are judged more by the money you make than your worth to the community in which you live.
Municipalities compete for state funding, and states compete for federal funding. They compete by conforming most to what the government higher up wants. Often times the federal government forces mandates on the states by threatening to withhold federal funds. The drinking age in Vermont would still be 18 if the federal government hadn't threatened to withhold transportation money from the states that didn't raise the drinking age to 21. This leads to the question of a government of, by, and for the people. So if government isn't acting in our best interest, who's interest are they acting in? Ever hear of a lobbyist?
Obviously our government doesn't act in the best interest of labor, otherwise among the other industrialized nations of the world, we wouldn't stand alone with South Africa in tolerating ancient union-busting devices. The right to strike is lost when there is fear of permanent replacement workers. The decline in strikes in the U.S. is paralleled by a decline in workers income. Labor hasn't been helped by its negative portrayal in movies, or media where it's labeled as a special interest. Years of support for labor by communities has eroded, when in fact the interests of labor are the interests of communties.
If striking workers are replaced and left with no job, is that not heading them down the road to welfare? What about kids having kids, and teenage mom's on welfare? Is it right to make the true costs of bearing a child out of wedlock clear, by letting them be felt when they are incurred, namely at the child's birth? Many people harp on welfare because they think these are lazy, unmotivated people. Maybe some are, maybe they're not, but is it right to deprive their kids the means to survive, better themselves, and potentially one day lead a normal life off welfare? By punishing the poor instead of helping them, are we not continueing the cycle of poverty?
What about interjecting a religious issue such as wedlock into government? What about separation of church and state? This is where you have to wonder about the roles of religion and government. The encouragement of religious enthusiasm has a long history within the psychic processes of counter-revolution. It has long been used to tame the masses, breeding the chiliasm of despair. The desperate hope for some world other than this one, which can offer little.
Religion is where many people get their beliefs and values. Let's take for example christianity which is the predominant religion in the U.S. Christianity dictates that in this life people must work hard, to get to the next life (heaven), in which they will be rewarded. Whether or not heaven really exists, religion helps to disspell the notion that people control their own destiny.
In this way everyday Vermonters are being exploited the same as is done to people in the third world. The difference is that the exploitation and control is unseen in the U.S., because it is so buried and ingrained in our culture. How many average citizens realize the multitude of ideals that are the foundation of American society, actually shape and mold up into controllable workers. If the system that is supposed to be of, by and for the people is truly not, hasn't our nation been built upon a lie?
Essentially we are requiring our teachers and school administrators to not only lead the horse to water, but make it drink as well. Coupled with unfunded federal mandates such as No Child Left Behind, it puts our schools between a rock and a hard place. More time is being spent dealing with behavior, leaving less time for instruction. What results is what I call the stupidification of America.
It's hard to be positive when you spend more time trying to convince a kid why they need to learn math, than teaching how to do the problem. With more households having both partners work, kids are coming to school looking for attention they should be getting at home. We are asking schools to educate our kids, and double as substitute parents as well. Parental accountability is the heart of the issue.
I don't believe in losing civil liberties, but I don't believe everyone should be able to breed either. I know a couple who is getting divorced and putting their kids in a foster home, that's not right. Some end up foster homes or with relatives because parents are in prison. Then there's the kids having kids. A lot of these youth end up misguided, lacking direction and positive role models.
I submit that education issues are community issues that need to be solved by the community. Problem is these kids get bounced around from school district to district, never settling long enough to truly get an education. All while having negative impacts wherever they end up. The whole thing is a viscious cycle. Educators get burnt out, childeren's education is impaired, and the general public and taxpayers say enough is enough.
Fundamentally a solution needs to be sought to appease all. Most importantly is the future of our society, which first and foremost depends on our youth. If our kids lag behind, so will our country in the future. Kids today don't appreciate our history. Kids today seldom do homework. Kids today talk back to adults. Kids today, put down one another constantly. I fear for the future of America
Thursday, April 19, 2007
My treestand was nothing special, just a wooden ladder of fifteen feet made of driftwood, and roped to a tree. The trail after entering from the rear of an alfalfa field, proceeds through wet ground to the edge of a more open swamp. In the dim light I could barely make out the outlines of my bait piles as I slowly made my way past. The pears had been pawed over recently which I took as a good sign, as the pile is next to active rubs and scrapes. This was back when you could do that sort of thing, before worries of chronic wasting disease prompted its discontinuance.
Opening day of rifle season in Vermont is a special time, a long year in the making. The snow covered ground was covered with occasional ice crystals that broke under my weight with a resounding crunch. The pale light reflected off of everything white, which at this point most all was covered by snow. Panting as I climbed, my breath formed huge clouds in front of my head lamp. The stand squeaked and rubbed a bit as I climbed, but I made it up without incident. I wiped the snow from the platform and hung my gear bag on a tree branch. Now came the fun part.
I had used a scent drag covered in deer estrous on the way in, but now it was time to get serious. I sprayed myself head to toe with earth cover scent, and squirted some no-bait apple gel down the backside of the tree. I took the scent drag, reapplied estrous and hung it as a scent wick out on a branch a little bit out from me. Lastly I took out a bottle of estrous gel and a popsicle stick, and spread some of the scent on little pieces of branches, bar, and leaves that I dropped to the ground nearby. It wasn’t as dark now. Slowly the sky began to fill with color as the sun peeked over the Green Mountains.
With the sunshine came a bit of warmth, about 7am the sun finally popped up over the ridge to my east. That’s about when I heard it. Far away at first, but getting louder, it seemed to be coming much closer. The frost had not left the ground yet and the rustling of frozen leaves made a racket that contrasted the quiet morning. It was coming straight for me, sounded like it was walking right down my trail. The steps were regular, slow here, then a quick step there. My mind raced, another hunter, what a bummer!
So I turned my back and waited for the person to kick out a deer in front of me as they went by. Instead they came up behind me, circled, and stopped a few times. By now I was irritated, it was just plain rude to walk all around a guys tree stand while he’s using it. So I turned around fully expecting to give someone a lecture on hunting ethics and etiquette right then and there. Nothing could prepare me for the surprise.
There stood a four point whitetail buck at sixty yards, and he was looking right at me! Reacting fast, I swung my gun to my shoulder and aimed. My elevated position gave me advantage over the deer who had to negotiate thick brush and fallen trees. The first shot was at his heart, and as I squeezed off the shot I saw a small sapling disintegrate. That’s all it took and the deer was off.
I shot again as he stopped to duck under an overhang, he kept going. Running broadside at eighty yards, two more shots, deer still running strong. Another shot quartering away hundred yards thru a break in trees, deer not stopping or slowing. I climb to the ground to examine my first shot, I clearly wasted that sapling. Second two shots weren’t located but I followed the trail the deer took and couldn’t find any blood or indication of a shot. Then “Bang!” on the other side of the swamp. I followed the trail a bit longer then circled back to my tree stand and got my gear. I hiked back out to the road in time to see another hunter going by with a deer in the back. He pulled up and asked, “did you hear all them shots?”
I looked straight into his eyes and said, “Certainly did, some jerk a couple trees over from me blazing away at a squirrel!” He says “yes, but the shots scared this deer out in front of me. It came walking out of the swamp and stopped in the middle of the old railroad bed. I drew up and shot, he dropped there.” My deer in the back of another hunters pickup, what a bummer.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The source of half the mercury in the Lake Champlain basin comes from outside the basin via the jetstream and lower level winds. Mercury is a concern in Lake Champlain because it is a toxic that bio-accumulates in individuals as it proceeds up the food chain. Mercury is stored in the fatty tissues of animals and remains indefinately.
The cycle starts when micro-sized planktonic organisms ingest the mercury while they feed on the bottom, and are then eaten by small minnows. Predatory fish like Walleye and Northern Pike, eat many of these small minnows and build up mercury in their own tissues. This is why the State of Vermont has had to post health advisories for childeren and women of childbearing age. Another Lake Champlain food chain that is affected by mercury starts with Myces.
Myces are a freshwater shrimp that feed on the bottom during the day and rise up in the water column at night. When they rise they are fed upon by schools of Rainbow Smelt, who are the number one forage of Lake Trout. This is why the health advisories also pertain to Lake Trout. What if humans are not the ones at the top of the food chain? That's when we find dead loons, herons, osprey, and eagles that test high in mercury.
Besides mercury, there is concern about high levels of manganese and arsenic in Outer Mallets bay. These contaminants settle to the deepest parts of the bay near the Champlain Islands. It is a very protected bay and only real influx of water is from the Lamoille River. The manganese has been attributed to runoff from old talc mines in Johnson, Vermont. The arsenic is believed to have originated from an old lead smelter to the north that regularly vented its pollution over the Lamoille river valley.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Many college students actively participate in politics and elections, whether as a part of their curriculum or not. Campuses are a good place for political involvement because students usually have time. What cannot be overlooked is not all young voters are in college. There are are many who serve in the military, have jobs, families, and cannot commit time to be active participants in the political process.
A youthful pro-future political leader is needed to challenge people at the grassroots level, to get out and vote. This person would have to be honest, hardworking, true to heart and really care about young people. It also means a serious investment of time, something that few youth today seem willing to make.
In Vermont, women seem to be more actively involved in politics than thoughout the rest of the country. In a small state such as Vermont, issues and character are important, and many females have built strong platforms. I didn't realize until visiting the statehouse how many women there are in the legislature.
It's unfortunate that nationwide there is less participation by women. I think that a lot of places haven't developed as socially. There is still a strong sense that a woman's place is in the home. Other reason's I've heard for less participation by women include busy raising families and lack of education. This is exactly why more women need to vote, be active, and make their voices heard.
Monday, April 16, 2007
There was also this guy in class whose name was Dill, and he was from New Jersey. Dill was a good guy, but a notorious clutz. Our prof. gave us all a lecture on bog safety, encouraged us to go explore. He gave one stern warning though. "Don't go out to the edge of the bog and start jumping up and down." Those of us who had bog trotted before knew bogs were spongy, and we could bounce a little bit to make plants nearby quake as well. A kettle bog is a bit different in that, when you walk out to the edge and bounce, it creates waves along the edge of the sphagnum moss.
I was right in the middle of trying to take a picture of an otter swimming across the pond when all of a sudden I heard a shout, and then yelling. I turned to my left to see a group of students rushing toward the edge of the bog. Yep, Dill had disregarded our prof's warning. Went right out to the edge, and jumped up and down. The howling was Dill, who had broke through the mat of sphagnum, and was in the bog literally up to his armpits. There was much cussing involved as everyone had to take pictures, before pulling him out. Soaking wet, and smelling very bad, Dill was blessed with his own seat in the van on the way home.
Now, same natural history of Vermont class, different field trip. This time our prof. had taken us to Montgomery to sample invertebrates in Trout River. It was before the bridge was damaged in the flood, and posted signs went up everywhere. This was my first time here, and I had heard great things about the river. Pretty easy task, those with rubber boots turn over rocks, while everyone else sits downstream with sampling nets waiting in the current. I had never realized how much life there really is under the rocks, so this was a real eye-opener. This trip is also when I began to take an interest in fly-fishing.
It was late October, but the weather was cold and breezy. Our prof. advised us to be careful, as the rocks along the edge are slippery. Yep, you guessed it. No sooner had the words come out of his mouth when a loud splash came from from the back of the group. Followed by a couple more splashes as Dill struggled to get back up. This probably should've ended the excursion, as nobody wanted to deal with hypothermia setting in. A quick survey revealed between everyone we had enough dry clothes at the van for Dill to change into. Instead of heading back, Dill already wet, stumbled down the middle kicking things up as he went along. We emptied our nets into sample jars and skeedaddled, out of there quicker and with more samples than we probably would've had otherwise.
The Lake Champlain has risen, and floodplain wetlands are loaded with wood ducks. With snow covering the land time and again Canada geese can also be seen congregating in wet spots in agricultural fields. Seems like the weather caused them all to pause, and think twice about headed north.
Incidentally its just about last call for getting nest boxes out to be used this season. Whether intended for waterfowl, bluebirds, or bats, they'll be looking for homes soon. Don't forget about the road when you're starring off the side looking at signs of spring!
Friday, April 13, 2007
Serpentine is supposedly a good luck rock. Found in Lowell, and Eden, Vermont, it is a dark green rock, sometimes called green marble or verde antique. It is related to the minerals that are found in asbestos, mined here beneath Belvidere Mountain. There are defunct copper mines in Corinth, Vermont. This was where a majority of the North’s copper came from during the civil war.
There is one farmers field in Barton, Vermont which yields amethyst crystals, but no one knows whose. Barre, Vermont is still known for its thriving granite industry. The Rock of Ages quarry is internationally known. Ludlow, Vermont is home to talc that they use to make Johnson and Johnson baby powder. 80% of J&J talcum powder is from Vermont. Plymouth, Vermont was the scene of a brief gold rush after the one in California. The farmers decided instead of prospecting they could make more money going back to being farmers. This town also has garnets in some bedrock. Garnets form 1600 feet straight down where there is greatly increased heat and pressure.
Proctor, Vermont is known for its white marble, which continues to be extracted today. Fair Haven and Castleton, Vermont have many slate deposits, especially around Lake Bomoseen. Button Bay State Park, in Vergennes, Vermont is famous for its clay concretions called “buttons” and fossils. Charlotte and Shelburne, Vermont have deposits of so-called Zebra Marble. Really a black slatey shale with white veins of calcite, sometimes called picture rocks. This is because of their tendency as the rock is worn over time to reveal “pictures”. All one needs is imagination, and time. Stowe, Vermont has a rock formation ironically called "stowe formation" that has huge inclusions of fools gold (iron pyrite) which is present in a graphitic phyllite. Colchester, Vermont is the home of our only Jasper mine. Red stone with metallic hematite in cracks and fissures throughout.
Milton, Vermont has Dolostone, which was quarried on the right of the last turn before the straightaway to Sandbar State Park. Most of the stone removed was used to fill the causeway between Milton and the Islands. South Hero, Vermont has fossils such as those at Lessors Quarry owned by UVM. Grand Isle, Vermont has an old railroad grade that goes through it where coal can be found where it fell off a rail car. Same for many other locales in Vermont.
Isle La Motte, Vermont is the home of the Fisk Quarry. This is where the black marble in radio city music hall comes from. Swanton, Vermont is home to a particular type of Red Dolostone commonly called red marble. The one and only quarry has been the subject of recent fraud activity.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Vermont for generations has stood for something different. A unique sense of place intermixed with beautiful nature throughout. Products that are Made in Vermont, are noted for high quality. It is a land of myth, lore and legend.
Vermont has a long and colorful past from which to draw upon for inspiration. During the first two major wars of the fledgling United States, a major theater of operations was the “silver dagger” of Lake Champlain.
Many times the course of United States History was shaped by events or persons from within the Green Mountain state. Vermont continues to be on the legal frontier with laws going before the U.S. Supreme Court that conflict with the U.S. Constitution.
1. The territory that was to become Vermont was originally claimed by what two states?
2. What was Vermont’s first Governor One-eyed Tom’s real name?
3. The Green Mountain Boy flag had 13 stars on a blue square in the corner, with the rest being this color?
4. This Vermonter captured Fort Ticonderoga in the name of “the Jehovah and the Continental Congress“, whose cannon and stores were sent to aid General Washington in Boston?
5. Ethan Allen died returning to his homestead in Burlington with a sled load of hay from his cousin Ebenezer’s place in this town?
6. This fort was built opposite Fort Ticonderoga on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain?
7. In Native American, what does Winooski mean?
8. This river was supposed to be named Lamotte, but someone forgot to cross the t’s?
9. The Vermont State bird is?
10. The Vermont State insect is?
11. The Vermont State flower?
12. This native american tribe inhabited the Vermont region long ago?
13. What year did Vermont become a state?
14. How many years did Vermont spend as an independent republic?
15. The northern most action of the civil war occurred here on October 19, 1964?
16. Where were a majority of Vermont’s troops committed to civil war action October 19, 1964?
17. Vermont recently took this large predator bird off of its endangered species list?
18. Proctor, Vermont is known for this stone industry?
19. This former Vermont governor ran for president but failed to receive his party’s nomination?
20. Barre, Vermont is known for this stone industry?
21. This is the USA’s eighth best Walleye fishery?
22. From what town in Vermont does Red Marble (Red Dolostone) come from?
23. Name one of Vermont’s three mountaintops that have alpine communities?
24. Black Marble like that at Radio City Music hall comes from what town?
25. Name an Island in Vermont’s inland sea?
26. What Canadian province is just north of Vermont?
27. Name a state park in Vermont’s northeast kingdom?
28. What Canadian seaway is just north of Vermont?
29. What compass direction does Lake Champlain flow?
30. Name of the british governor general who failed to destroy Benedict Arnolds fleet but shelled a small island in the pursuit?
31. This state is to the west of Vermont?
32. What runs from a maple tree?
33. This state is to the south of Vermont?
34. What do you turn maple sap into by boiling it?
35. The “Kingdom” is what compass point corner of Vermont?
36. What annual fishing derby is held on Lake Champlain during father’s day weekend?
37. St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle la Motte is the first site of one of these in Vermont?
38. Who led the Green Mountain Regiment at the Battle of Hubbardton?
39. This is the civil war commander from Addison county whose Vermont troops broke Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg?
40. Started a thriving scale business in St. Johnsbury and was governor at start of civil war?
41. Was the largest causeway in the world until one opened on Lake Pontchartrain in the south?
42. This Native American tribe recently received state recognition in Vermont for the second time, the first time it was repealed by Governor Thomas Salmon?
43. Who was the first treasurer of the state of Vermont?
44. He won the battle of Plattsburg for the Americans during the war of 1812?
45. Name of Governor/General who failed to destroy Commodore MacDonough’s fleet during the war of 1812?
46. Man for whom Lake Champlain is named?
47. What year did Samuel D. Champlain discover Lake Champlain?
48. Number of years Vermont was an independent republic before becoming a United State?
49. What was the sum of money that finally persuaded the State of New York to give up its opposition to the new State of Vermont?
50. Benedict Arnold scuttled his fleet on shores of this county, Vermont’s wettest?
51. What is Vermont’s capital?
52. What was the name of the Allen families land speculation enterprise?
53. The Cabot Creamery is one of Vermont’s largest producers of this dairy product?
54. Beneath this peak on Vermont’s Long Trail is now a defunct asbestos mine?
55. This is Vermont’s only poisonous snake?
56. It is legal not to wear these in a Vermont State Park, but you must put them on if someone complains?
57. Recent energy projects in Vermont have made use of this farm waste, turning it into energy and compost?
58. Before the Civil War Vermont was dependent on sheep farming for this animal product?
59. Springfield Vermont is historically known for this type of industry?
60. The coming of this in Vermont ended an era of water-based commerce like the sailing canal boats on Lake Champlain?
1.New York and New Hampshire.
12.Mohawk, Iroquois, Algonkquin, Soloki/Abenaki.
15.The St. Alban’s Raid
16.Winning the Battle of Cedar Creek, which is painted on the statehouse wall.
23.Mount Mansfield, Camel’s Hump, Mount Abraham.
24.Isle La Motte at the Fisk Quarry.
25.Cedar, Fish Bladder, Kellogg, Savage, Woods, Knight, Dameas, Hen, Butler, Burton, Mosquito, Grand Isle, South Hero, North Hero.
27.Stillwater, Boulder beach, Ricker Pond, Seyon ranch, Maidstone, Brighton.
30.Sir Guy Carleton, and the island became known as Carleton’s Prize.
36.The LCI or Lake Champlain International.
37.Catholic mission or French settlement.
41.The Colchester/South Hero Fill.
44.Commodore Thomas MacDonough.
46.Samuel D. Champlain.
52.Onion River Land Company.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
It was covered by retreating glaciers around 10,000 years ago, and inhabited thereafter by native americans. "Discovered" in 1609 by Samuel D. Champlain, it was tugged between the french and british till the states took form. As always before, and during the first two wars to face the United States (Revolution and 1812), Lake Champlain was an important invasion route both north and south.
In it today swim Lake Sturgeon, a relic of many years. Alongside with new comers like White Perch and Double Crested Cormorants. Its ecology and water quality have changed as a result of human use. It is also the jewel of the regions aquatic recreation, drawing quite a large gas driven flotilla. A couple annual bass tournaments are held here, because of its notable smallmouth bass.
Water quality issues are surfacing because of human issues; shoreland development, wetlands loss, agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff and erosion within watersheds. Invasive species like zebra mussels, purple loosestrife, water chestnut, and eurasian milfoil that are spread by humans. The list goes on and on.
We need to separate between the science of managing Lake Champlain, and the politics. Sounds so simple doesn't it? If we apply ourselves now we can have results in the future, maybe in time for our grandchildren.
Friday, April 6, 2007
Whether young or young at heart, everyone can enjoy fishing. There's no club dues, little skill involved, just a hook, line and bait and anyone can be an "expert". Fish are a renewable natural resource, especially if one practices catch and release. Fish can tell you about the health of the lake, from lamprey marks, to black spot, to yellow grubs, and that nasty sarcoma that affects Northern Pike.
Our state benefits from the money tournament and recreational fishing bring. The future of our aquatic ecosystems lies with youth who grow up respecting their delicate balance. Kids who understand why excess soap, wastes, and chemicals don't belong in our waterbodies.
I implore any and all, young and old alike, take a kid fishing. Its some of the best community service you can do. Help preserve our waterbodies, get a kid off the street, off the couch, away from the video game system. Help wrestle tomorrow's leaders from the grip of the television set, and affect positive change.
What seems to be chaos is really orderly fluctuations. Man has no fluctuations. Just onward and upward in what is termed exponential growth. When resources run out a population crash is to be expected. We need to get the message of sustainability to the kids now before it's too late. Youth today lack important connections that previous generations had the benefit of. Connections to the earth, their communities, and society in general.
They lack a sense of place, not knowing where they fit into the big picture. The kids are the future, it must start with them. Change happens from the ground up in the hearts and minds of our American youth. We need to instill in them a mindset that they are a valuable part of our communities. That their opinions and ideas are respected, and matter. Only our kids will be able to save us from ourselves. Please promote sustainability.
There is a third world developing within the U.S. As the divide between wealthy and middle class grows, more working class families are becoming working poor. All a result of inflated costs of living, and high taxes due to out of control government spending.
Our government of by and for the people, has become a tool of the rich and powerful. Tax-cuts for the wealthy allow the rich to get richer at the expense of people who have work harder to earn a living. Our taxes pay for our government to use its military to make the world safe for American corporations. We trade soldiers lives for business overseas, that makes the rich, richer.
Where is the benefit to the common man? If the future of American industry is overseas, what is to be the future of the American people? What jobs can they expect to have in this outsourcing, do business at the lowest cost, world? Goods may get cheaper, but if Americans are without gainful employ, how will they be able to afford those goods?
I blame corporations for being greedy and pursueing the almighty dollar at any cost.
I blame our government for being unresponsive to the needs of the people. I blame politicians who vote based on party lines and special interest money, instead of their constituents desires.
I challenge politicians and government to fully fund education rather than spending all our money on defense. I challenge corporations and business to provide American workers with livable wages and meaningful employ. I challenge ALL Americans to end the cycle of voter apathy, and send a clear message to our government by voting in record turnouts.
It is time for change.
Stephen A. Douglas besides debating Lincoln was a native of Brandon, Vermont. His famous quote went "Vermont is a great place to grow up, provided you leave shortly thereafter." This is as true today as the 1800's when Vermont first started loosing its native son's and daughters. Vermont began documenting a loss in the 1820's as canals opened the way to the west.
Today we lose Vermonters because of economic disadvantage.
Wages are low, good jobs and gainful employ are few. The costs associated with living here are outrageous. The problem is Vermont is dominated by low paying service jobs because we are a "tourist state". These jobs are most often seasonal, and very few come with benefits. We need winter and summer clothes, fuel and transportation costs drive up other goods. We need heat in winter, and energy year-round, very little of which comes from here in Vermont. It is a lose, lose situation.
There is the problem of land and taxes here in Vermont. Land is sold at the premium development price here, that often Vermonters are unable to buy into. People who want to put up a house, have a couple kids, maybe a small farm, are being crowded out by McMansions and Condo's. On top of this you add some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Not to mention our sales and excise taxes.
Vermont is dominated by a consumer economy, there is a trade imbalance across our states borders. We produce all sorts of specialty products for export, but need to import nearly all the things we require to live here. The Yankee tradition of making do has gone by the wayside and we've moved on to bigger, better, even broadband, in the backwoods.
What have we lost along with those landless son's and daughters? Look around, the signs are everywhere, community is what has suffered. When a town needed something done they pitched in and made it happen. Now its who's the low bid, and where can we get grant money or aid. Local control used to be something Vermonters prided themselves in, but now most of our decisions are being made in Montpelier and Washington. How many can say they like the decisions that are being made?
As a youth I had but one dream and that was to grow up, live, and die, in the town I was raised. My future in Vermont is questionable. I'm getting married this year, and Vermont is a hard place to start out. All I ever wanted was to be near my family, and now it feels like I'm being forced out by the economic costs of being a Vermonter.
If your family used to own half the town, and now you live with your parents on two acres in a trailer, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you've ever veered your car toward an animal in the road, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you've ever given a tourist completely wrong directions, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you don't ski and crawl under a rock to hide from winter, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you see snowy weather as opportunity to make money pulling tourists out of ditches, you may be a true Vermonter.
If nothing but real Vermont maple syrup if for you, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you're up to your eyeballs in bills, and you're wondering how you're going to pay your taxes, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you know the start dates of turkey, crow, duck, goose, deer, bear and moose seasons, you might be a true Vermonter.
If your car is rusting out and your still making payments on it, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you slide a rowboat out on last ice in front of you to go ice fishing, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you shoot fish, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you know there are spring and fall mud seasons on the Long Trail, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you make money off of tourists, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you think a trip to the dump is a shopping trip, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you love coming up with things to define true Vermonter, you may be a true Vermonter.
If you ever wonder what it takes to be a true Vermonter, you might just never be a true Vermonter.