Courtesy photo

By Elizabeth Bassett, contributor

I’m still prowling for good news in the outdoors. Rain, for starters. A break from the heat before we put on our down jackets. Both qualify!

Amphibians on the move
Kate Kelly at Lewis Creek Association reminds us that with rain comes the opportunity for amphibians, who need to keep their skin moist, to move about. Frogs and salamanders are metamorphosing and emerging from wetlands onto land. Amphibians overwinter uphill of the waters where they breed in spring. On rainy evenings they will cross roads where we might see (and help them). Do drive carefully!

Storm Smart
Storm Smart is a free program intended to help landowners make homes, driveways, and yards better able to absorb rain. With climate change come more intense weather events, including heavy rains. To improve water quality downstream, in our rivers and lakes, homeowners can take steps to slow or stop runoff. These may include rain gardens, rain barrels, water bars, and ditching. A property assessment will trace the paths that water takes across your property. The program then provides recommendations for water management specific to your home. Storm Smart provides education and technical assistance. It is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District offers a video tutorial for building your own rain barrel on their website.

Emerald ash borers
In the not-great-news department, the emerald ash borer (EAB) is killing ash trees of all varieties across the country. The insect is now spreading in Vermont where about 5 percent of all trees are some type of ash. Cities and towns are trying to mitigate this loss by slowing the spread of the insect and managing their response to the inevitable loss of trees. The Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program offers grants of up to $15,000 to municipalities “prepared to remove public ash trees, plant trees of different species to offset the loss, and to utilize ash wood in effective and innovative ways.” The week of September 12 to 19 is EAB Awareness Week. Events and information about EAB are at the Vermont Invasives website.

Education on the hoof
With school vacation extended and many classes going online, this may be an opportunity, while the warm weather lasts, to explore our region. Carry a bird book, wildflower book, or tracking chart–children generally bring their own curiosity. Knowledge and love of the outdoors lead children as well as adults to support a healthy environment and our conserved lands.

Lake Champlain is still warm, so swimming and paddling are still options and fall colors aren’t too far away. Take a walk, take a hike, paddle or swim. While there are many things we cannot do during this pandemic, exercising with friends and family in the outdoors can be a safe option. Some resources include Local Motion and Trail Finder, Lake Champlain Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Vermont State Historic Sites, and Vermont State Parks.

Mt. Philo State Park wants you!
Our beloved and much used state park requests feedback on its long-range management plan. Many of us use and love our park; probably most have opinions about its future. Feedback should be sent to Reuben Allen.

In appreciation of Mt. Philo and the other 54 parks in the Vermont system, consider supporting the nonprofit Vermont Parks Forever, which encourages and supports park use by all Vermonters. Vermont Parks Forever also funds revitalization of nature centers and work to incorporate new parks into the family of Vermont State Parks.

Get outdoors and be safe!