Ecology is the study of plants and animals and their relationship with the environment. Winter ecology is simply studying the relationship of plants and animals in the winter. Signs of wildlife in winter are sparse and often subtle, but to the trained eye, they tell a rich story of survival. At the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Woodstock, the study of our natural environment continues through Vermont's winter months. Teachers come to the Institute in winter to learn how to use outdoor activities to help their students develop a better understanding of their environment. We spent some time recently at the Institute with a group of teachers to learn a little about the world around us in winter.
Skijoring is the sport of cross-country skiing while being pulled by a dog or dogs. It's an offshoot of sled dog racing and has been popular in Scandinavia and Alaska for many years. If you have a dog that's over 35 pounds and is trainable, you both may be candidates for skijoring. It's a terrific way for dogs and their owners to get out and exercise during the long winter months. Other than the cross-country skis, there is not a tremendous amount of equipment needed. Host Marianne Eaton takes a skijoring lesson at the Eden Mountain Lodge and enters a race sponsored by the New England Sled Dog Club.
American shad were once so plentiful in Atlantic coastal rivers that colonists spread the fish on their fields for fertilizer. By the early 1900s shad numbers were in decline due to pollution, dams and overharvesting. Thanks to restoration efforts over the past 35 years, American shad are making a considerable comeback in the Connecticut River offering some exciting fishing opportunities. Host Lawrence Pyne fishes the Connecticut river with local angler Forest Woodruff to learn how to catch these strong fighting fish. He then meets up with Ken Cox, a fisheries biologist, to learn how fish ladders in dams along the river have brought the fish back north.
There are seven species of sturgeon in the United States. These long, armor-plated fish are virtually unchanged since prehistoric times. Mature lake sturgeon grow to about three to five feet in length and can weigh over 100 pounds. It wasn't long ago that Lake Sturgeon were commercially fished on Lake Champlain. Today they are an endangered (threatened) species. Host Lawrence Pyne joins Chet MacKenzie of the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife's Lake Champlain Sturgeon Restoration Program, to find out what is being done to reestablish one of the lake's ancient creatures.
- Chet MacKenzie
VT Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
317 Sanitorium Road, West Wing
Pittsford, VT 05763
Whitewater kayaking can be an exhilarating, fast-paced and fun run down the river. It's also a potentially dangerous sport that requires proper training and the right equipment. One of the biggest whitewater events in Vermont happens on the last weekends of both April and September when the Ball Mountain Dam in Jamaica holds a controlled water release, turning the West River into a class III run. Thousands of whitewater enthusiasts come from all over New England to run the rapids. Host Marianne Eaton takes an introductory whitewater kayak lesson and runs her first class II whitewater.
Taking a walk in the woods can be more than just a time to experience the pretty sights and sounds of nature. The outdoors is a treasure trove of wild plants that are not only good to eat but can be used for medicinal purposes. The trick is to know what you are picking before you eat it. Host Marianne Eaton joins wild edibles expert Colleen Jones at Merck Forest and Farmland Center for their Wild Edibles Walk that culminates in a wild edible luncheon.
- Colleen Jones, 802-375-6441
- Merck Forest & Farmland Center
|Colleen Jones' Dandelion Linguini (Crock-Pot Recipe)|
2 lbs dandelion greens
For the Adopt-a-Salmon Family program at the CP Smith School in Burlington, two fourth grade classes raised a salmon family from eggs. Five months later the one-inch fry were ready for release into Mill Brook in Jericho. OUTDOOR JOURNAL visited the school to see what the students learned from raising the fish and then attended the release, complete with ceremonial reading of poems by the students.
One of the best ways to learn the skills of hunting is to learn in the field from an experienced hunter. Vermont's first youth turkey hunt was held the weekend of April 27 and 28, 2002. This special weekend encouraged experienced hunters to go out with a youngster and share the skills that are required for a successful outdoor experience. We accompanied a young hunter and his mentor to witness the experience of a first hunt.
Well-camouflaged and extremely aggressive, Northern Pike will strike at just about anything that crosses their path. These fish are traditionally caught on lures or live bait. But when host Lawrence Pyne joins pike enthusiast Drew Price on Bristol Pond (Winona Lake) for a day of pike fishing, they break out the fly rods in pursuit of these great predators.
From the thrill of liftoff to the traditional champagne toast upon landing, hot air ballooning has lost none of its magic for both first timers and seasoned pilots. Vermont is host to the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival in July. Here over 20 pilots from around the country come together for a weekend of sunrise and sunset launches, filling the skies over Stowe with a dazzling array of colors. Host Marianne Eaton steps into the gondola of aeronaut Chuck Baraw at the festival to rise above it all.