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State Park Gates Open Friday

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Susan Bulmer
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Vermont State Parks
Little River State Park, in Waterbury, is one of a handful of state parks already open for the season. The vast majority of parks open Friday, May 22.

All of Vermont's state parks will be open for camping and day use on Friday. Vermont State Parks Director Craig Whipple says Memorial Day weekend is something he and his staff have been looking forward to for some time.

"It's our big opening weekend," said Whipple. "Although some of our campgrounds have been open for a few weeks prior, all the rest of the campgrounds open this weekend and all the day areas open. So, it's like a holiday for us. We've been looking forward to it since last fall."

Vermont has more than 50 parks around the state. Whipple says there are a few new activities campers and day visitors can look forward to this season. One is a partnership between the state parks and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife called "Reel Fun."

"We've got ten parks where we're going to supply fishing equipment to people as loaners, so that they can purchase a short-term fishing license and take the family fishing, hopefully, for the first time and kind of get hooked" Whipple explained. "Fishing is a good time for families to spend time together outdoors. It's a good connection with the outdoors and it can create a life-long interest in being outside and getting all the values from outdoor recreation."

Fishing licenses will also be for sale at the parks hosting the Reel Fun program. Whipple said a list of participating parks will be up on the Vermont State Parks website.

Later in the season, Whipple said some parks will be hosting artists in residence.

"It's also the year of the arts in Vermont, so we've got seven parks that we're going to have artists in residence, connected with the Burlington City Arts program called Of Land and Local," said Whipple. "And these are going to be artists of different stripes doing all kinds of sculpture and painting and other kinds of things."

And overnight campers will get an added bonus this year. The state parks have partnered with ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center to give campers coupons for reduced admission to Echo's Smokey Bear and Woody Owl: Home Sweet Home exhibit.

Whipple also noted that there is a proposal currently under review that could result in some higher state park fees before the end of the season. If you plan to purchase a season pass, buying early may save you a few dollars.

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