‘Tis The Season

This issue, we focus on two seasons that converge at this time of year—hunting season and holiday shopping—both vital to our state.

“Vermonters love to buy local,” as Sarah Segall notes in “Just Sew,” our story on Vermont’s outdoor apparel start-ups and the entrepreneurs behind them. Segall, the Stratton woman who started Orsden skiwear, is not just talking about local food and beer.

As holiday shopping starts, there are any number of good reasons to buy gear and apparel that’s from Vermont. Buying local supports our economy. Vermont-made products tend to be made in smaller batches than those produced by large national brands. And, more and more, they tend to be produced with an eye toward sustainability.

For example, Eva Shaw now makes her HoodEs at the Vermont Teddy Bear factory and employs local seamstresses. Amelia Leme’s bright Mana Threads are not only made from recycled products but also use biodegradable fabrics. Eastward, the new line from Ski the East, is being sewn in India at Fair Trade-certified factories using organic and recycled materials.

But perhaps the best reason? These products and others are produced by athletes who really know their sports.

A glance down our list of 30 more outdoor gear products from Vermont may not reveal the elite athletes who started them. Dick Dreissigacker and Judy Geer, the folks behind Concept2, were Olympic rowers and their daughters, Emily and Hannah, have both been on the Olympic biathlon team. Bob Dion of Dion Snowshoes has five national championship medals in snowshoeing. Dave Dodge, founder of Dodge Boots, raced at Burke and at UVM before becoming an engineer for Rossignol, Burton and other companies. Jason Levinthal of J Skis pioneered the twin-tip ski when he launched his previous business, Line Skis.

As for that other season, hunting? It’s a long-loved tradition and part of the fabric of Vermont life. But it is in danger as fewer people are getting into the sport and as Vermont’s landscape changes.

Perhaps no one embodies the spirit of the “new” hunter more than Heather Furman. Furman is a former ultramarathon runner, climber and co-founder of CRAG-VT and now, head of the Vermont chapter of The Nature Conservancy. To find out why she got a rifle as a birthday present, read Abagael Giles’ fascinating story “The New Hunters (and why we need them).” After reading it, you might want to add a rifle to your holiday wish list too.

Outdoor recreation—be it skiing and snowshoeing or hunting and fishing—is vital to Vermont’s economy. This October, Gov. Phil Scott announced a new grant program designed to help Vermont’s villages and towns become more “outdoor recreation friendly.”

The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Communities Pilot Grant Program will award grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 to one or more Vermont communities.

The funds can be used to support environmental stewardship, recreational programming, events, capital projects, marketing and planning. As part of the application, communities will have to demonstrate how they expect to grow their local economies by leveraging new outdoor recreation zones.

Applications for the grants are due December 14. To learn more, visit fpr.vermont.gov/VOREC.

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is also accepting grant applications from towns for funds provided by the National Park Service (NPS) through its Land and Water Conservation Fund. NPS has said it will provide as much as half of the funding for projects that conserve land or develop it for outdoor recreation. Pre-applications were due Oct. 15 and full applications are due Dec. 17. For more information, visit fpr.vermont.gov/recreation/grants/lwcf.

That’s a present we call can use. 
—Lisa Lynn and Abagael Giles, Editors

Featured Photo Caption: Chelsea Camarata of Kaden makes mountain bike apparel that is specially-designed to be comfortable for women. Photo courtesy Kaden.