A butterfly flits through the field on a light spring breeze. Voices echo as hikers pass by. A bird calls out. On a sunny day, Pinnacle Meadow is a small slice of Vermont magic.
It’s magic that takes work to maintain. The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (VT FPR) mows the meadow every few years so it doesn’t grow into forest. The road and trails system need to be repaired in the fight against wind, water, and human movement. And, as recreational use has increased, extra TLC is especially important. So, this year, VT FPR is doubling down on planned maintenance at Pinnacle Meadow in the long-term interest of all.
From May 8 through mid-June, the Pinnacle Meadow parking lot and road/hiker access to the meadow will be closed to public use to allow upgrades and repairs to the road (you can check the status of the project here). “The road to the meadow was originally done for subdivisions but was roughed in and was never constructed for long-term meadow access”, explains VT FPR’s Walter Opuszynski. VT FPR’s Dan Singleton adds, “We want to get water off the road as quickly as possible. The first step is putting back the material that has eroded off the center of the road. Above the gate, we will also put in dips and water bars on average every 100 feet to control surface water runoff. All that water could otherwise go directly down the slope and into the stream.” Below the gate, VT FPR also plans to crown the road to shed water. The repairs are not only good for water quality and recreation: a well-cared for road will allow VT FPR to continue to haul in trail maintenance tools, as well as invasive plant control equipment that will aid in the long-term stewardship of the property. As an easement holder on Pinnacle Meadow, Stowe Land Trust supports these upgrades as part of our goals of collaborating with partners and focusing on the long-term stewardship of the land (check out our new Strategic Plan to learn more). Our conserved properties also host a number of publicly accessible trails for you to enjoy while Pinnacle Meadow is closed.
While a well-maintained road is important to long-term stewardship at Stowe Pinnacle, there’s another angle here, too. “Some folks may not realize that the road is a dual-purpose emergency access road, and Pinnacle Meadow is a Heli landing area," notes Walter. “We have a responsibility to maintain the road system and the meadow for rescue efforts.” This is also one reason VT FPR asks members of the public not to block the gate.
What does VT FPR want you to know about the upcoming work? “The work is going to change the feel of the trail until it weathers and grasses accumulate again on the fringe, but it’s important for long-term planning. The end result is a road for FPR and the public that is more resilient, cheaper to maintain, more efficient, and will improve water quality,” says Walter and Dan.
Note: This fall, VT FPR plans to continue to invest in Pinnacle Meadow by making upgrades to the Pinnacle Meadow parking lot to account for increased recreational use. Look for those updates later in the year.