Vermont Recreation Information

VT Fish & Wildlife bans nature guides
and paddle sport instructors from using state fishing access areas.

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Commercial Use Permits For Guides

Our Petition to the Board
(This was posted in March of 2010 and although it had over 190 signatures, it was not accepted by the F & W Board. They counted this petition as representing one signature, mine.)


Vermont Outdoor Guide Association



The Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife has contacted me after I posted this page and made the following statement:

"The fact is, I tried to help find a middle ground (which is reflected in the Board minutes), and the Fish and Wildlife Board denied the petition.  I think your web posting is inaccurate, and I will be sure to pass that along to anyone who contacts me."
Commissioner Patrick H. Berry
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

I hear this type of argument many times. "It was the Fish and Wildlife Board, not the Department." or "If the Department had supported the proposal, the Board would have been more likely to look at it closer. They would rather blame each other than to work together to find a way to fix this problem.

Commissioner Berry was new on the job when the meeting below was held. He did try to help without knowing the history or the fact that the fix was already in. Department staff testified against any changes in the rule at the meeting below and at prior board meetings. They even brought in the Department's former legal council, Steve Hill to testify against our request for access. Mr. Hill, I am told, has a special use permit to use a state fishing access area as his personal parking lot for a camp that he owns.

If the Department truly wanted this issue cleaned up, they would find a way to make it happen. Sorry Pat, I stand by my statements.

The best message for those below is:
"Please help to find a way for nature guides and paddle sport professionals to legally use state access areas for launching and retrieval of non motorized vessels."


Fish & Wildlife  Commissioner:
Patrick Berry

ANR Secretary:
Deb Markowitz

Chair of Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources:
David Deen

We encourage you to also contact your elected officials.



Anyone with or without experience can launch a canoe or kayak from State fishing access areas, except for certain professionals.

Vermont remains the only state in the Northeast, possibly in the country, that bans paddle sports professionals equipped to teach technique, outdoor ethics and safety from state fishing access areas for launch and retrieval of kayaks and canoes.

While wildlife is a major element in the mission of our Fish and Wildlife Department, they ban professional naturalists and birders from using canoes or kayaks at our fishing access areas. They can however, use motorboats.

A fishing guide and his or her customers can launch and retrieve canoes or kayaks at our access areas but take out the tackle and carry cameras for wildlife photography, that's right, it's illegal.

Permits are available for special events at access areas but not for guides. This essentially allows hundreds of people on an access areas for an event but denies a guide with one customer.

We have been trying to correct this problem for several years but a few individuals have blocked every effort. Promises from folks in a position to correct this problem have not been kept.


Here is what we have suggested:

Permits for guides to use access areas similar to permits on all other State lands....DENIED

Use of underutilized access areas from a list created by the Department....DENIED

Make a list of overcrowded access areas and let the guides use the rest.....DENIED

We had an intern make a list of undeveloped access areas from the State's own info and asked if the Department would allow the use of "car top", "carry on" and undeveloped areas.....DENIED

Changing the rule by eliminating the words "Commercial non-motorized vessels"....DENIED

We suggested that with a permit process, the access areas not be used as a meeting place for guides and their customers. Bringing a van and a trailer takes no more space than a truck and a trailer.....DENIED

Simply allowing access like all the other States..... DENIED

_ _ _ _

Fish & Wildlife Board
Wednesday, April 27, 2011


First Vote: Access Area Use -- Revision of 10 V.S.A., App. § 115

Mr. Gallo asked if the Department continued to oppose the proposed rule amendment requested by the Board. Mr. Palmer said the Department’s position had not changed; it still opposed the rule amendment. Mr. Palmer added the Department’s recommendation is to not add any additional uses to the Department-owned access areas.

Mr. Lindholm said he saw the issue as being a parking issue. Mr. Gallo said the parking areas are being mis-used already and the Department has trouble managing the access areas and enforcing the regulation as it now stands.

Mr. Gallo recalled the opposition of anglers in 2006 when a similar proposal was considered. Mr. Spates believed the Commissioner’s discretion to allow/disallow use in the rule as it is currently written would not open up any further use. Mr. Salvador agreed with the statements, but said the amendment would allow launch and retrieval only at remote areas, and the Commissioner would be able to limit use through permits.

Mr. Driscoll suggested that activity be allowed on a case-by-case basis as there are plenty of access areas in the state not being utilized.

Commissioner Berry said the rule amendment appeared reasonable on its face; however, a clearly defined list of allowable uses would be needed, and internal discussion would be warranted based on the volume of use at specific areas, the timing/season of the request, and whether the request would be for weekend or week-day use. Commissioner Berry suggested the option of allowing the proposal as a pilot project that could be discontinued if problems arose.

Mr. Palmer said special use permits are currently issued for a specific suite of activities, but there had been a relatively small number of requests, even prior to 2006, when the Board amended the regulation to clarify the allowed and prohibited uses of access areas. Mr. Palmer said there had been a number of permit applications denied due to possible conflicts or incompatible uses (e.g. lack of parking), and a few revoked permits for commercial activities which the applicant had indicated would be non-commercial.

Chair Ames asked if there was a motion to open the rule. Mr. Spates made the motion, which was seconded by Mr. Lantagne.

Mr. Lantagne noted that the Northeast Kingdom does not appear to have the same issues as Chittenden County, and said there is plenty of parking at Lake Memphremagog. Mr. Spates echoed Mr. Lantagne’s assertions, as he did not see any issues in Caledonia County. Mr. Lantagne said he would prefer not to shut down access to the entire state due to certain problem areas, and thought the rule could be crafted to give flexibility to administer.

Mr. Roy added that access areas in Grand Isle County are in poor condition and more are needed (specifically in North Hero).

Mr. Lindholm suggested that non-motorized commercial users work with the riparian landowners to obtain access across those private properties, similar to the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers’ snow machine trail network.

Chair Ames asked for a vote:
Those in favor (5): Spates, Driscoll, Salvador, Adams, and Lantagne.
Opposed (5):
Allard, Gallo, Roy, Lindholm, and Lawrence.
Abstentions (2)
: Shannon and Wilcox.
Chair Ames cast the deciding vote in opposition.
The motion failed (6-5-2).