Vermont plans to open state land to more sugarmakers

03/28/09 9:35AM By Ross Sneyd
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AP Photo/Toby Talbot
(Host) Sugarhouses across the state are holding open houses this weekend to celebrate one of Vermont's quintessential industries.

As VPR's Ross Sneyd reports, the state plans to help sugarmakers produce even more syrup next year.

(Sneyd) Sugarmakers say the sap's been running well in most parts of the state, although a bout of warm weather earlier in the month slowed things down a bit.

Vermont has had nearly ideal weather this past week. Clear, cold nights followed by warm, calm days.

It's been enough to keep the sap flowing and the sugarmakers boiling late into the night.

Now, the state wants to make sure even more sap flows next year.

A new agreement will expand the number of state forests and parks where sugarmakers can tap trees for maple syrup production.

Jason Gibbs is commissioner of the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

(Gibbs) ``There's a whole host of criteria that we apply in the evaluation of these sites and we give very careful consideration to it. We've so far identified 11 that would make perfect sugarbushes and we're looking forward to getting them licensed and operational for the next sugaring season.''

(Sneyd) The state has already licensed two sites on state lands where trees can be tapped by commercial producers.

The sugarmaker pays the state a lease fee to tap the trees. Gibbs says the project won't make a lot of money for the state, but that's not the point.

(Gibbs) ``The economic value to the state as a whole is more significant if you look at this in the context of the value of maple sugar to the state, to the state's brand, to those individuals who are in the industry, to farmers who use it to add value to their operation.''

(Sneyd) There's a lot of value in the sap for sugarmakers this year. Prices have been consistently high because of a shortage of syrup.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.

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