Extended hours, new pet policy at Lake Shaftsbury State Park

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SHAFTSBURY — Officials are implementing multiple changes at Lake Shaftsbury State Park aimed at better serving park visitor needs.

Changes include a playground, a new policy to allow pets in the park and an extended season, through mid-October.

"Our goal is always to get people outside, enjoying the parks," said Reuben Allen, Region 2 manager for the Vermont State Parks, of the impetus for the changes.

The changes are also expected to increase revenue for the park by boosting attendance. Entrance fees will remain unchanged at $4 for those 14 and older, and $2 for children from 4 to 13. There are also separate fees for the group campsite and the on-site cottage for rent. The park had 18,408 visitors last year, said Rochelle Skinner, park sales and service manager for the Vermont State Parks, in an email.

"We see a desire by the public to have those changes, especially the playground," Allen said. "[It's] something we've been wanting to do for some time, and we finally got funding for it."

The playground is expected to be ready for visitors by mid-June, and will include swings, a large, classic play structure and a dome-shaped climbing structure, according to a press release from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

The playground is funded through the Parks Region 2 capital infrastructure budget, which is part of the state parks capital funding allocated by the legislature, Allen said in an email.

For the first time, pets will also be allowed anywhere in the park except for the sandy beach and inside buildings, according to the release.

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A lot of people currently walk their dogs in the park before it officially opens, and after the season ends, Allen said.

The new pet policy goes into effect when the park opens for the season. Animals must be on a leash at all times, and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

To better enjoy early fall weather, the park, including its picnic pavilion, group camping area and rental cottage, will remain open through mid-October, rather than closing right after Labor Day weekend.

"It just seems like an easy decision," Allen said. "On a lot of nice days, there are a number of people that are going in, even when the gate's closed, to enjoy the parks."

There was no formal public feedback that led to these changes, but there has been lots of anecdotal feedback, Allen said.

"[I'm] pretty confident it's going to be a success all around," Allen said of the changes. Officials will consider making tweaks, if needed, he said.

Lake Shaftsbury State Park is on an 84-acre parcel surrounding Lake Shaftsbury. The area operated as a private campground/cabin resort before it became a state park in 1974.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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