Red Rocks Park Goals and Challenges

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Thursday May 09, 2013

Many residents and non-residents of South Burlington annually flock to Red Rocks Park, particularly in the summer months to enjoy its trails, beach, and scenic vistas. In order to assure the park is maintained and cared for in the years to come; a management study was conducted and presented as a joint effort of  the Red Rocks Park Advisory Committee; chaired by Yiota Ahladas and UVM Grad student in the Field Naturalist Program, Sophie Mazowita. 

Ms. Mazowita covered a “sampling” of the full 60 page report in her presentation to the Council. She began with an overview of the park itself which contains 100 acres of urban forest and was purchased by the City in 1970. The park contains 3.3 miles of walking trails and access roads with an additional 4.3 miles of unofficial side trails. It provides a popular destination for dog walking, swimming, hiking, and nature appreciation. The park is also home to a diversity of wildflowers, and wetland areas provide habitat for breeding frogs and salamanders. 

One of the primary challenges of the park is balancing recreational opportunities with the preservation of forests and wildlife. The increase in use has contributed to problems such as invasive species, erosion, unofficial trail creation, and off leash dog impacts (only 12% of dog walkers obey the leash law and some do not pick up after their pets). Since the invasive species are in the early stages, they should be easier to eradicate now according to Mazowita. In addition, some park users engage in bon fires, camping, cliff jumping, illegal parking and littering which are difficult to enforce given the limited nature of City resources. 

Ms. Ahladas said, “This is a rare jewel to the City and also for the broader community. It is increasingly becoming a tourist destination and the increased usage presents increased challenges…we need to take conscious leadership to preserve it for the future.” Ahladas mentioned disappearing view corridors and conflict with the Department of Public Works regarding downed trees. Recently, the Department has been clearing them, but in the past, there was an understanding that fallen trees would remain on the forest floor to decompose and provide valuable habitat to wildlife. Ahladas explained that she and her committee would continue to be involved in the maintenance and would bring in volunteers to assist in the effort. The Council recommended she cite the interdepartmental issues in her report.

Tom Hubbard, Director of Recreation and Parks said, with the Council’s approval, he would post the entire report on the City website for public comment. Chris Shaw moved to accept the study and allow for posting to the website, Pat Nowak seconded and the decision was unanimous. 

You can become involved with or stay apprised of updates on Red Rocks Park by submitting comments online, going to a public meeting, or contacting the Red Rocks Park Committee. You can also take part in park service days to remove invasive plants, maintain trails, and monitor wildlife as well as explore the park with the Red Rocks nature club on the last Sunday of each month.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent