The City kicked off its inaugural Community Hike Series in 2019 with a set of hikes at Red Rocks Park that were focused on engaging the public in discussions about the park’s existing management plan and potential updates to that plan. There was incredible interest in these hikes, so staff decided to plan out an entire series of Community Hikes in 2020 that would run from March through October at the City’s three natural area parks and cover an array of natural resources topics. The goal of this program is to get more residents out in our parks, while also learning more about the natural resources we have in South Burlington.
Due to COVID-19, staff had to cancel the scheduled that were scheduled from March – June of 2020. Staff were able to coordinate two virtual hikes that were led by Ethan Tapper, the Chittenden County Forester; and Mark LaBarr and Margaret Fowle, with Audubon Vermont. City staff also put together a virtual slideshow showcasing some of Red Rocks spring ephemerals for the public to enjoy in case they were unable to go out an enjoy them in person. All of these online virtual opportunities have been posted on the City’s Recreation website to be viewed anytime.
In July, the state updated its health guidance and staff were able to restart the series. Hikes have been held in July, August, and September. The first two were led by representatives from the South Burlington Master Naturalist program and the last one was led by a graduate of the Williston Master Naturalist program. Staff had to consider several precautions for these hikes, including: mask wearing, physical distancing, reducing hike capacity, only allowing those registered to participate, and encouraging interested participants to follow the state’s quarantine guidelines for out of state travel. Each trip had a waitlist, and there was a lot of interest in additional hikes.
Plans are already underway to create the schedule for hikes next year, and will release that list as soon as it’s finalized. If you have questions about the program, you can contact Ashley Parker at: firstname.lastname@example.org.