HOW TO SAFELY USE WVPD PARKS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC:
- Starting August 1, 2020 per the State of Vermont Mask Mandate all visitors to WVPD parks will be required to wear a mask or cloth facial covering any time where they come in contact with others from outside their households, and where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet.
- Maintain at least a six-foot (6’) physical distance from other people in the park as recommended by the CDC
- Please stay home if you or members of your household are feeling unwell
- Keep your dog(s) on a leash at all times and avoid touching and interacting other people’s dogs (they are members of the household and must follow physical and social distancing as well)
- Avoid touching structures such as fences, sign posts, information boards, picnic tables, gates and railings
- Wash hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Carry hand sanitizer with you while visiting parks
- Pick up your trash and properly remove it from the park to help protect our staff. Please pick up, bag, and properly dispose of your dog’s waste
- Restroom facilities are closed
- Bring your own water
The WVPD acknowledges this is a fluid and constantly evolving situation. While WVPD parks currently remain open, we are closely following and will adhere to recommendations set forth by the CDC, Vermont Department of Health, along with state and local officials. We will strive to keep our parks open as long as possible, but need the public’s help to ensure they remain a safe space for everyone. Please observe and follow all signage posted in the parks and all other public recreation areas.
Posted March 27, 2020; updated July 31, 2020
Old Mill Park
When you visit Old Mill Park (behind the Old Red Mill on Rte. 15 in Jericho), you are greeted by an open meadow with Clay Brook running through the middle. Only a few years ago this meadow was a beaver pond, but now only the beavers’ lodge and broken dam—both covered with dense vegetation—are left as evidence. This meadow is in transition, from pond to shrubby thicket; it will become more and more like the surrounding forest until beavers return and create a pond once again. If you have lived in the area for a few years, you have probably seen these changes taking place. But have you noticed that the surrounding forest is undergoing similar changes?
Even-aged white pines make up much of Old Mill Park’s forest canopy. In New England, this is almost always evidence of an abandoned pasture. Unlike other fast-growing trees such as aspens and birches, white pine seeds do not require bare soil to germinate. The saplings also have an advantage over other species because livestock and deer avoid browsing them. You can estimate just how long ago the pasture was abandoned by counting the whorls of branches because white pines produce one whorl each year. If you take the Beaver Pond Spur at the north end of the park and look to the right from the “Park Ends Here” sign, you can see remains of the barbed wire fence that once kept livestock in this pasture.
But this isn’t the end of the story. As you walk the trails, notice what trees are coming up under the pines. Deciduous, more shade-tolerant trees, such as beech and maple, dominate the hilltop and south-facing slope. On the other slopes, which receive less sunlight, hemlock is abundant. A hundred years from now, the forest will look very different, with perhaps a few remaining large pines protruding from a mostly deciduous canopy—while the slopes may become almost pure hemlock stands, since it is too dark under a hemlock canopy for much else to grow. As you enjoy your walk, try to imagine the sheep- or cow-filled pasture that once occupied this land, and envision the mature forest that will one day develop here.