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As Summer Heats Up, Recreation Leaders Ask People to Be Safe and Considerate at Swimming Holes


June 25, 2021 -- With swimming holes across Vermont getting busier as summer arrives, more than a dozen non-profit organizations and state and federal agencies in the Vermont Swimming Hole Collaborative want to remind the public about important safety and etiquette considerations. 

“Staying safe at swimming holes begins with an awareness of your surroundings whenever going to a new place, or even a favorite spot,” said Holly Knox, Recreation Program Manager for the USDA Forest Service, Green Mountain National Forest. “Knowing the unique features of each swimming hole you visit will help you understand where swift currents and cliffs are located, and whether it is safe for you to plunge in.” Knox also notes that heavy rain can cause dangerous swimming conditions and can impact the water quality. It is best to avoid swimming 24 hours after a heavy rain.  

The Vermont Swimming Hole Collaborative organizations that manage more than 25 swimming holes around the state all saw an increase in visitors in 2020, with people flocking to rivers and waterways to cool off and enjoy the natural beauty and peace these special places have to offer. With the hot weather Vermont has seen recently, this spike in visitors continues. Challenges such as litter, unleashed dogs and pet waste, dangerous overflow parking on roads, and trespassing on private property are all issues that the swimming hole managers are working to tackle. These issues risk continued public access to swimming hole sites, so the Collaborative is asking the public to pitch in and help by observing the following guidelines: 

  1. “Carry-In, Carry-Out” and “Leave No Trace” where trash and recycling bins are not present, or where bins are full.
  2. Use designated bathroom facilities only; human waste (and dog waste) can lead to dangerous bacteria in the water.
  3. Always keep your dogs leashed to keep them and others safe or leave them at home. Pick up and properly dispose of dog waste.
  4. When a parking lot is full, come back later or visit a different site; do not park on private property or in the travelled area of roads.
  5. Do not trespass on private property and respect “no trespassing” signs.
  6. Read and respect all signage at swimming hole sites.
  7. Be considerate of others and the neighborhood.
  8. Help keep Vermont waters clear; staying on the trails reduces erosion and saves plants. 

“Like thousands of Vermonters and visitors, we’re looking forward to another beautiful summer of swimming in our rivers, ponds, and lakes. We are fortunate to have hundreds of swimming holes throughout Vermont that communities have enjoyed for generations. When we work together, all swimming hole visitors can help protect and take care of these sites for people to enjoy for generations to come,” said Steve Libby, Executive Director of the Vermont River Conservancy.  

The Vermont Swimming Hole Collaborative includes Friends of the Mad River, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, Mad River Path, Mad River Valley Planning District, Richmond Land Trust, USDA Forest Service, Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Vermont River Conservancy, and White River Partnership. This group is working together to ensure Vermont’s incredible swimming holes are enjoyed respectfully and are protected for years to come.