Vermont’s landscape offers endless opportunity for outdoor recreation, and some of the best snowmobiling in the world. Since 1967, The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers has groomed about 5,000 miles of terrain each year for snowmobiling enthusiasts. “The economic significance that the sport of snowmobiling has on the state of Vermont is outstanding, at approximately $500 million annually — which is second only to skiing in the state in the line of tourism,” said David Rouleau, president of the Barre Town Thunder Chickens club. According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, there are more than 1.2 million registered snowmobiles in the United States, and snowmobilers in both the U.S. and Canada put $28 billion into local economies each year. This includes expenditures for equipment, clothing, meals and snowmobiling vacations.
The mission of Audubon Vermont, a chapter the National Audubon Society, is to protect birds, wildlife and their habitat through education, conservation, stewardship and action. With the Bird-Friendly Maple Project, maple producers are getting involved. Audubon Vermont has undertaken a conservation partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association by developing the project to enhance the habitat quality of Vermont’s maple sugar bushes and promote pure maple products. “Audubon Vermont has been working on forest bird conservation as one of its main programs for the past 10 years,” said Steve Hagenbuch, a conservation biologist with Audubon Vermont. “The sugar bushes, or forests managed primarily for maple sap production, also provide the summer nesting habitat for many bird species.
Correspondent Vermont has become well known not only on a national level, but on an international level for its artisan craft beer. Craft breweries are growing, and the industry contributes approximately $199 million to the Vermont economy annually. Vermont is ranked number one in the nation for breweries per capita based on population and is recognized as a leader in this thriving trend. Yet, some predict this big beer boom may be losing its fizz. “The craft beer industry is calming down from 15 to 18 percent growth in previous years to 9 to 11 percent for this past year,” said Gregory Dunkling, program director of UVM’s Business of Craft Beer Program.
Correspondent In a few weeks, the first hunting season of the year will commence, with many licenses already purchased and hunters ready to get out in the woods. Hunters pay for a significant portion of wildlife conservation money, and sale of hunting licenses is a principal part of that funding, but proceeds may be declining. About a decade ago, approximately 70,000 hunting licenses were sold each year in Vermont. That number has declined by three percent in recent years and the drop is expected to continue. “This decline is not due to lack of interest for the sport, it’s due to the largest group of hunters — the baby boomers — are getting older and reaching the age where they can apply for a license at no cost,” said Kim Royar, special assistant to the Vermont commissioner of Fish & Wildlife.
Since 1977, United Van Lines, a global transportation, warehousing and freight corporation been tracking migration patterns on a state-by-state basis. A study released from 2016 concluded that Vermont is experiencing more inbound moves than outbound, and that has been the case for nearly three years running. “For nearly 40 years, we’ve been tracking which states people are moving to and from, and we’ve recently started surveying our customers to understand why they are making these moves across state lines. For Vermont, a higher percentage are moving into the state rather than leaving,” said Melissa Sullivan, director of marketing and communications at United. United Van Lines is the nation’s largest household goods mover, the company’s data reflect national migration trends.
Correspondent MONTPELIER — The Vermont Commission on Women, an organization committed to pay equality, celebrated the 100th signer to the Vermont Equal Pay Compact last month. VCW and former Gov. Peter Shumlin launched the Equal Pay Compact in 2015 to address the gender pay gap that continues to plague the U.S. and several other countries around the world. “This project launched on Equal Pay Day 2015 to inform employers about practical steps they can take to eliminate the wage gap in their business and across Vermont,” said Cary Brown, executive director of the Vermont Commission on Women. The project, a voluntary online pledge, was set up to enable Vermont-based employers to get facts and indicate their commitment to closing and abolishing wage disparity based on gender. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “equal pay and the wage gap of American women who work full-time, year-round, are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men — and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger.
Across Vermont, independent coffee shops and roasters are brewing up something special. But what is it about a local coffee shop that gets their customers to go out for coffee rather than stay home and brew their own? Coffee is more than just a drink, it’s an experience — it’s something happening, from a daily ritual to an element of culture shared within communities. “Coffee culture is really coming to the forefront here in Vermont. If change is going to happen within a community, it’s going to happen over a cup of coffee,” said Elizabeth Manriquez, owner of Espresso Bueno in Barre.
Correspondent BRATTLEBORO — Some may have heard of Ronald Read, a stock market-savvy janitor from Brattleboro who passed away in June 2014. After Read’s death, his story quickly made the news. He was well known within his community, a simple man with a simple way of life. Unbeknownst to family and friends, by the time of his death at age 92 he had amassed approximately $8 million in stock holdings and property. Upon his passing he left most of his secret success to facilities he favored in his community.
By Noella May Pickett Correspondent MOUNT HOLLY — Iced sugar cookies aren’t just for the holidays. At A Dozen Eggs Bake Shoppe, located in Mount Holly, owners Laura Courtemanche and Dave Morello are still whipping up holiday-themed sugar cookies and much more. There was no after-holiday break for these bakers. Out from the cold and into a piping hot bakery, Courtemanche, Morello, and their two assistants were working hard on fulfilling an order of meticulously hand-iced snow globe cookies for a client in Los Angeles. With each intricate detail, cookies were quickly transformed from blank slates into little sweet works of art.
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Engine Room Coworking, a co-working space in downtown White River Junction, launched last month. It is all about the freelancer, the startup, the independent creative type, the developer — you name the profession, they’re working together under one roof. Engine Room Coworking is a partnership between Tip Top Pottery owner Amy Robb and local redeveloper Mike Davidson. The 6,000-square-foot co-working space is located at the end of the Freight House, formerly known as the Tupelo Music Hall. The space has been restored — the rustic and industrial mix is the perfect backdrop to foster communal networking, like-minded professionalism and community.