State To Manage Rogue Campsites At Waterbury Reservoir

May 20, 2014

Waterbury Reservoir is one of the most popular lakes in the Vermont State Parks system. But many of the campsites around the reservoir have, until now, been outside the purview of the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation.

Working with law enforcement, emergency responders and the nonprofit group Friends of the Waterbury Reservior, Northeast Parks Regional Manager Susan Bulmer has announced a three-year plan to manage the previously unofficial campsites that fall outside the boundaries of the Little River State Park and Waterbury Center State Park, the two state parks abutting the reservoir.

"As the popularity of Waterbury Reservoir increases, so do the challenges." – Northeast Parks Regional Manager Susan Bulmer

Bulmer said her department has identified nearly 35 campsites along the perimeter of the reservoir. “These are sites that campers have created,” said Bulmer in a release. “As undesignated sites, there is no oversight by our park staff and no long-term management plan in place to help protect environmental quality and to ensure sustainable use of the sites by the public.”

The management plan goes into effect this season and starts with identifying and monitoring the campsites. Highlights of the three-year plan are as follows:

  • Year 1: 2014 · Designate all known existing sites as remote camping sites or day use sites · Install inconspicuous temporary site numbers at designated sites · Monitor use of sites and provide educational information to users · Improve at least 10 remote sites with trails to sites and installation of composting toilets · Close sites that suffer from soil compaction, erosion, or that pose high flood risk
  • Year 2: 2015 · Improve additional remote campsites if funding is available · Continue stewardship outreach to users
  • Year 3: 2016 · Improve remaining remote campsites if funding is available · Review previous two years’ experience and explore logistics for future management

“As the popularity of Waterbury Reservoir increases, so do the challenges,” explained Bulmer. She added, “We realized that it was time to develop a strategy that would not only ensure the protection of the natural environment, but would also provide a valuable recreational resource to those interested in remote camping along the reservoir."

Vermont State Police Captain Paul White added, “Because there has been no formal management of camping along the shores of the reservoir, state police officers and game wardens have at times been placed in the position of being called to the reservoir to deal with disturbances without having clear guidance as to what activities are and are not permitted on this land.”

Each year, more than 75,000 people visit the 863-acre Waterbury Reservoir. Popular activities include boating, swimming, paddling, fishing, camping and hiking.