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Hazen's   Notch   Association
Bringing People Together to Conserve Vermont's Natural Resources
 ________  Trout River - Area Management  _________







Trout River Falls Natural and Recreation Area Management Plan

Adopted by Montgomery Selectboard

Trout River

Town of Montgomery

 

Executive Summary

   The following Draft Management Plan is being prepared at the request and for consideration by the Montgomery Selectboard by the Vermont River Conservancy of Middlebury, Vermont and the Hazenís Notch Association of Montgomery Center, Vermont.

   The authors draw upon their experience in developing management plans for previous conservation projects and recreation areas elsewhere in Vermont for both VRC, HNA as well as the Green Mountain Club and the State of Vermont - Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation.

   Our intention is to create a management plan that demonstrates an awareness of the recreational values derived by the public from the Three Holes and to simultaneously respect the collective desires of the citizens of the Town of Montgomery to protect the natural and aesthetic qualities that are present here. It is our responsibility, in acting as stewards of this significant natural resource, to protect those values that make this one of Vermontís most beautiful waterfalls.

   We welcome and encourage the full participation of all those who share a love for the Three Holes. By working together we can ensure that this valuable natural and recreational resource will continue to provide the town and its many visitors scenic beauty for years to come.

 

Jeff Meyers
Executive Director, Vermont River Conservancy

Rolf Anderson
President, Hazenís Notch Association

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Site Location/Site Description

Natural History

Geology

Hydrology

Natural Communities

Land Use History

Property Report

Surrounding Land Ownership

 

III. Current Site Use

Access

Swimming Hole

Picnic Area

Natural Area

Angling

IV. Management Goals and Objectives

V. Management Issues

Parking

Trails

Litter

Safety

VI. Management Recommendations

Management Supervision

Parking

Signage

Trails

Regulations

Conservation/Land Protection

Monitoring

Site Steward

Funding

Implementation

VII. Action Plan

VIII. Monitoring Plan

IX. Budget

X. Appendices

Maps

Sample Signage

 

Introduction

In December of 2000, Therese and Gaston Begnoche donated an exceptional property along the Trout River to the Town of Montgomery. The Town now owns and manages this property (approximately 12 acres in size) as the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area.

The Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area is a popular and beloved locale for swimming, fishing, nature study and other forms of low-impact recreation. As the Trout River runs through the property, it pours over three waterfalls, each with deep pools below. The site is wooded, with many large and picturesque rocks.

In 1991, the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources conducted a statewide inventory of swimming holes (public and private property) that included six sites in Montgomery ("VT Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation: Public River Resources Assessment" also known as "The Vermont Swimming Hole Study" conducted by Jerry Jenkins with the help of Jane Dorney and Deborah Benjamin).

The Three Holes site is included in this list (see appendix) and is referred to as the "School House Swimming Hole." According to the study the Three Holes site has long been one of the most heavily used swimming holes in the area.

The Montgomery Select Board agreed to take title to the Three Holes property because of the importance of the site to the local community, to the citizens of Montgomery, and to those who visit the area.

Despite the heavy use this site receives, no management plans or rules have been developed for the property. Guided by a well-conceived management plan, rules are necessary to maintain the integrity of the natural resource and to ensure the health, happiness, and well being of those who use the site and to protect the rights of surrounding landowners. A concerted effort is necessary to develop rules, to educate the public, and to establish responsibilities for the implementation of management efforts.

The purpose of the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area Management Plan is to develop guidelines, policies, and rules that will protect the area, its users, and surrounding landowners. The plan should be revised over time to respond to assessments of its effectiveness and changes in site use and condition.

The Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area Management Plan begins with descriptions of the site and its past and current use. It then identifies management goals and objectives and issues that could effect the achievement of these goals and objectives. Finally, the Plan recommends key strategies and actions along with responsibilities, timeframes, and estimated costs.

 

 

II. Site Location/Site Description

Location/Site Description

The Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area is an irregularly-shaped, wooded parcel of land located behind the Montgomery Center Public Safety Building and along the Trout River, with its westernmost extent approximately 1,000 feet upstream from the Rt. 242 Bridge. Several small houselots on Rts. 242 and 58 are proximal to the property. The Trout River runs for approximately 2,000 feet of the property as does Hannah Brook whose confluence with the river is on the property.

 

Geology

The Geology of the Three Holes Area includes a mix of Hazen's Notch Formation intergrading with Jay Peak Formation. The former is composed of gray and rusty quartz-albite-sericite-chlorite schist; the latter is composed of fine-grained, light gray-green quartz-chlorite-albite phylittic schist and quartzite. This portion of the Trout River lies near the base of steep terrain and so has been shaped by the force of water and the relative resistances of the underlying bedrock. The structure of the streambed comprises very large boulders, smaller boulders and sorted sizes of gravel on exposed bedrock.

 

Hydrology

The bedrock features of the Three Holes Area of the Trout River appear uplifted and tilted from upper west to lower east. The forces of water over thousands of years, which drain the Wade and Jay Brooks, drop through the steep topography of the region to cut deep gorges and form spectacular waterfalls and cascades which further carve pools and shutes along this beautiful stretch of the Trout River. In July, 1997 the northern Green Mountains in the Montgomery area suffered a disastrous flood in one night. A great deal of damage occured in the watersheds which deposited thousands of tons of wood and stone debris in the lower stretches of the streams.

 

Natural Communities

The major forest cover close to the river is hemlock due to the continuous draining of relatively cold air from the mountains throughout the year. The banks integrade with northern hardwoods. In the gorge channel itself, the shear cliff faces are covered with ferns, namely bulblet bladder fern (Cystopteris bulbifera) and rock cap polypody (Polypodium vulgare) and many species of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). The stream channel receives direct sunlight only during the middle of the day; this shady stretch of water enhanced by the cool, humid atmosphere promotes the lush growth of the aforementioned plants.

 

 

Land Use History

The Three Holes have played an important role in the lives of the residents of Montgomery Center for well over 100 years. The falls were once the site of a water-powered saw mill located on the "Mill Hill" area of the Hazenís Notch Road, and of the Montgomery Center village water supply. The mill used the water held behind an impoundment at Third Hole while the village water supply came from the waters of Hannah Clark Brook that joins the Trout River at Second Hole. The Three Holes have been a popular swimming place dating back to the construction of the Montgomery Center Graded School built at the beginning of the 20th Century. The school was located just below the falls on the current site of the Montgomery Public Safety Building on land owned by the Town of Montgomery. Recreational use of the area was primarily limited to local residents until sometime in the 1960ís. This was when the falls were featured in a promotional film that was produced and distributed by the Jay Peak ski area. Soon afterwards people began coming from out of town in search of the "Schoolhouse Swimming Holes."

 

Acquisition History

In December of 2000, Therese and Gaston Begnoche donated by Warranty Deed an exceptional property along the Trout River to the Town of Montgomery. The Town now owns and manages this property (approximately 12 acres in size) as the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area. The property is described as follows:

Being a vacant parcel of land located north of Vermont Route 58, also known as the Hazenís Notch Road", in the Town of Montgomery Center, Vermont, consisting of approximately 12 acres, more or less. Said parcel encompasses the "Three Holes," so-called, swimming area of the Trout River, and is a portion of "Parcel #3" of the land and premises conveyed to Gaston Begnoche and Therese Begnoche by Quit Claim Deed of Ralph Demers and Cecile Demers, dated March 4, 1964, and recorded at Volume 25, page 374 of the Town of Montgomery Land Records.

 

Legal Constraints, Rights-of-Way, encumbrances, etc.

None that are known of, but have not seen title opinion. Perhaps the attorney who performed the transaction would know. (Jesse Bugbee of Kissane Associates )

 

 

Surrounding Land Ownership

Several wooded parcels lie to the north and the east of the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area including the 10.5 acre Domina parcel, the 15 acre deLeClerc parcel, and the 8 acre Stepanek parcel. There are a small number of dwellings on S side of the Trout River that extend into or adjoin the Town parcel. These are owned by Demar (parcels 35 and 36), OíConnell (parcel 37), Tatro (42), Peters (41), and Dimke (38). Because of topography and the number of dwellings in this area public access to the river is not feasible from the South.

 

III. Current Site Use

Current Access and Visitation

Access to the Three Holes is currently from the parking lot at the public safety building (former school building site). This is problematic because of conflicts with safety vehicles and users of the Public Safety/Library Building (PSB). Access to the Three Holes has always been impromptu and has never been carefully thought out. The parking area at PSB often fills up with Three Holes site users, potentially impeding safe passage for PSB vehicles and parking for others who need/want to use the PSB for its designed purposes. .

 

Swimming

Primarily, visitors come to the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area to swim in its exceptional pools and clean waters. The site therefore receives its highest use in the hot days of summer. Other uses, such as picnicking and general enjoyment of the river and of nature, accompany the primary use for swimming.

 

Picnicking

Food and drink are consumed at the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area leading to the possibility of litter.

 

Enjoyment of river

Many visitors come to the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area simply to enjoy the beauty of the river.

 

Angling

The Trout River offers and excellent cold water fishery to anglers. Most of the fishing, however, occurs downstream or upstream from the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area. Most people park along 58 (Hazenís Notch Road) to fish the pools below the property. While some may fish the holes upstream holes, it seems to be less common, perhaps because there is the access to the upper area is poor.

 

 

Inappropriate Uses

A number of inappropriate uses are known to have occurred in times past at the Three Hole area. These include unauthorized fires, camping, use of motorized vehicles, use of mountain bikes, littering, partying, noisemaking, and unsafe behavior.

 

IV. Management Goals and Objectives

The Town of Montgomery accepted ownership of the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area because of its significance as a natural area and its exceptional benefits to local citizens and those who visit the Montgomery area. The establishment of Management Goals and Objectives defines what is necessary to accomplish the long-term protection of the site. The following managements goals and objectives define the direction of the Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area Management Plan:

 

    To improve access and parking for visitors to site.

     

    To develop a set of site use rules to protect the resource and site users.

     

    To educate users about rules for use of site.

     

    To establish and improve a formal trail system that minimizes impact to surrounding properties and resources.

     

    To improve sanitary facilities so as to maintain site and water quality.

     

    To balance recreational use with protection of natural resources.

     

    To establish monitoring and enforcement procedures and responsibilities.

     

    To determine "carrying capacity" of the site for adaptive management.

 

 

 

 

 

V. Threats to Management Goals and Objectives

Certain actions and behaviors have the potential to threaten the natural resources of the site and its safe and equitable functioning as a public recreational area surrounded by private land.

 

Parking

Past parking by site users has been in the lot of the Public Service Building. The degree of visitation to the Three Holes site has the potential to consume all parking lot spaces in heavy use periods. The Fire Department does not want parking for the swimming area to negatively impact the original intentions of the lot: parking for users of the Public Safety Building. It is particularly critical that adequate ease of ingress and egress for public safety vehicles is maintained. Swimming hole visitors should not impede this.

 

Trails

Swimming hole is at some distance from parking; there fore there is the potential for unplanned trails to negatively impact the area. Because of the high use of the site, it would be preferable to improve the surface (corridor and surface should be adequate in order to accommodate amount of use and maintain safety and integrity

 

Sanitation

For lack of sanitation facilities the property suffers from inappropriate use on part of people who need to relieve themselves. Bathrooms in PSB were not designed to be used by swimming hole users. Access to these bathrooms is intended for PSB personnel, library visitors, and public meeting attendees. As access to this building is restricted to certain hours, people using the swimming hole need other options.

 

Safety

Behavior of some site users can be unsafe. Activities such as swimming and diving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, swimming during high water periods, or diving from rocks are inherently dangerous activities.

 

Inappropriate uses

Motorized vehicles

Motorized vehicles can destroy trails and vegetation and interfere with general

enjoyment of the site.

Mountain bikes

Mountain Bikes can destroy trails and vegetation and interfere with general

enjoyment of the site.

Unauthorized fires

Unauthorized fires can lead to the destruction of vegetation, burn out of control, and leave unsightly scars on the landscape. The small size of the property means the number of trees is limited.

Camping

Overnight camping may lead to partying, the destruction of vegetation, and noise.

Noise

People visit the site for the natural sounds. Radio noise interferes with the enjoyment of quiet natural sounds by visitors to the site.

Cutting Vegetation

Cutting or disturbing vegetation would interfere with important ecological processes and aesthetic qualities of this riverside site.

Trash and Litter

Although mostly limited to picnic trash and trash from partying, litter is a serious problem at the site. The litter is mostly beverage containers, food wrappers, and that sort of thing. There is a fair amount of broken glass.

Alcohol

Alcohol has been used at the site and is a threat to responsible and safe behavior

at the site. Beverage containers also threaten the beauty and safety of the site.

Surrounding Landowners

The rights of surrounding landowners should be respected.

Hunting and Trapping

While hunting is not a common occurrence here, it is not prohibited on the site. Timing is important. While trapping may not have occurred here in the past, it is not currently prohibited.

Fishing

Swimming area should be prohibited in swimming areas. Anglers should obey all

local and state laws.

 

 

VI. Management Recommendations

The following actions and rules of use are recommended to ensure that the integrity of the natural resource, the rights of surrounding landowners, and the health, happiness, and well being of those who use the site are maintained.

 

Management Supervision

An individual or group should be designated to lead the management effort.

 

Parking

An alternative parking area (other than at the Public Safety Building lot) should be procured, designated, and properly managed. One potential such site is the Domina property.

Signage

An entrance sign notifying users of the name, purpose, and rules of the park should be designed and erected at the trailhead from the new parking area.

Interpretive signs should be designed and erected at appropriate locations.

Boundary signs should be placed along property perimeter to identify boundaries of Three Holes Natural and Recreation Area.

Picnic area boundary signs should be placed along the perimeter of the picnic area.

 

Trails

A comprehensive trail or trail system should be designed, developed and maintained to avoid destruction of the area.

 

Sanitation

The Town should add an exterior bathroom to the Public Safety Building to provide sanitary facilities to site users. This could be accomplished with a small addition on the PSB. This bathroom would not affect security of PSB. This bathroom would be accessible during daylight hours only.

 

 

Rules of Use

The following proposed rules of use should be reviewed and refined in consultation with Town Attorney and, upon approval by Selectmen, enacted as Town Ordinances so that they may be legally enforced. Appropriate fines for violation of these proposed rules should also be set.

 

Access

Access to the property should be restricted to the designated entry trail in order to protect surrounding landownerís rights. Signage at the parking area/trailhead will educate users about area regulations. A site steward will also educate user about area regulations.

 

Hours of Use

Hours of use should be established. These hours should be from the official time for sunrise and sunset as set by the Farmerís Almanac.

 

Inappropriate Uses

Motorized vehicles and Mountain bikes

All wheeled and motorized vehicles should be prohibited (except for management purposes).

Unauthorized fires

All fires should be prohibited. The Town may want to develop a picnic area with a designated fire pit.

Camping

Camping should be prohibited to minimize the negative impacts associated with camping.

 

Picnicking

No glass containers should be allowed anywhere on the property. Picnicking should only be allowed in a designated picnic area. This will help to minimize the negative impacts to aesthetics and safety that result from trash and broken glass at the falls.

 

Cutting or Collecting Vegetation

There should be no cutting or picking of vegetation to preserve the natural beauty of the area.

 

Trash

Littering should be prohibited on the property. The Town may want a trash receptacle in a designated picnic area away from the falls.

 

Alcohol

The possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on the property.

 

Hunting and Trapping

The site is too small in area and too close to the developed portion of the village for hunting and trapping to take place without compromising public safety. The potential for conflict with other area users and with adjoining landowners is such that hunting, trapping, shooting and the possession of firearms should not be allowed.

 

Radios

Radios should be prohibited on the property. Walk-man type OK.

 

Conservation/Land Protection

Permanently protect site through a conservation/public access easement. All management guidelines in this plan are temporal in that future town officials could make decisions affecting the.

Acquire Domina parcel for parking, picnic area and pedestrian access.

 

Monitoring

Because regulations can only be implemented by a combination of monitoring,

education and enforcement, a Site Steward should be hired to monitor the site, educate users, and notify enforcement officials of violations. It is recommended that the town hire a Site Steward or Caretaker. Site Steward could notify town enforcement officials.

Funding could come from site use fees. May want to implement site use fee system. Any Montgomery taxpayer could use the site free of charge. All others would pay a fee. Individual contributions and small grants could be sought to add to funding of Caretaker and other management related expenses. A line item could also be added to the Townís budget.

 

Enforcement

Town, County and State Law enforcement personnel would have the authority and responsibility to enforce violations of site rules if those rules are enacted as legal ordinances.

 

Coordination

 

Environmental Education

 

Funding

 

Implementation

 

Surrounding Landowners

 

 

VII. Action Plan

1. Review Draft Plan (Board of Selectmen provide comment to VRC and HNA).

2. Develop revised plan based on comments from Board of Selectman.

3. Present revised Draft Plan at Public Presentation to gather public input.

Provide proposed time frame and responsibility for implementing all proposed

actions.

5. Identify ongoing priorities.

6. Acquire Domina property

Cease trespass issue across Domina property by public

Move parking away from PSB

Create designated picnic area in full view of management authorities.

 

 

VIII. Monitoring and Enforcement Plan

 

Identify procedures for assessing progress in achieving goals in the management plan such as

 

Identify monitoring actions and responsibilities

 

 

IX. Budget

 

Cost estimates

Income and expense

 

Income

Contributions

Site Use Fees

Town Budget Item

Grants

NEGEF

Vermont Watershed Grant

 

Expense

Bathroom

Site Steward

 

 

Appendices

Warranty Deed, Therese and Gaston Begnoche to Town of Montgomery

Maps

Sample Signage

References

1991: VT Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation: "Public River Resources Assessment" known as "The Vermont Swimming Hole Project". Principal Investigator: Jerry Jenkins, White Creek Field School, White Creek, NY with Jane Dorney and Deborah Benjamin.

1999: VT Department of Environmental Conservation: "Hazen's Notch Watershed Inventory Project", Hazen's Notch Association, Vermont Watershed Grants Program - 1998.


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This page was last updated Jan 31, 2013.