The Agency of Natural Resources has released its 25-year plan for Vermont’s oldest state park, and it is a disaster.
The park’s popularity has created real challenges (worn trails, dog poop, parking on adjacent roads), but this plan’s response is to reduce access.
That’s right. Although the deed that created the park prioritized “health, recreation and pleasure of the public,” this document’s 11 goals place those priorities last. Instead there will be all kinds of reductions, from limiting the access of school kids (I am not kidding), to dividing hikers into smaller groups whether they want to or not, to posting No Parking signs on Mt Philo Rd and State Park Rd — with funding for state police enforcement of parking violations.
In fact, the plan uses the word “limit” 49 times in 150 pages.
A better plan would increase parking and toilet facilities, extend the season the booth is staffed to pay for these investments, and provide public education about staying on trails and cleaning up after dogs.
Many public comments during the plan’s development were ignored, as were polling results (e.g. 98 percent of people saying recreation was of high or medium importance). If this plan goes forward, expect your enjoyment of this public resource to be reduced dramatically.
To voice your concerns, there will be time toward the end of a two hour state sales pitch at CCS on April 19 at 6 p.m., or you can write by June 1 to ANR.MountPhilo@vermont.gov or Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, 271 North Main Street, Suite 215, Rutland, VT 05701.
Meanwhile you might want to go hike this mountain while you can.
Stephen P. Kiernan