Governor Jim Douglas today announced a new partnership with the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association that gives the go-ahead to expand tapping on some state land. The announcement came as the Governor kicked off the 8th annual Maple Open House Weekend at Marcia Maynard and Ken Denton s sugarhouse in Cabot. Maple sugaring is a vital piece of our agricultural and forest products economy, the Governor said. I am very pleased that the state will be able to make this modest contribution to this important industry with an agreement that promotes responsible stewardship of sugarbushes on state land.Under the agreement, the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation will license sites that it deems appropriate in state forests and state parks to sugarmakers, who will be required to abide by state land policies and management efforts while operating the sugarbushes. The Department expects to have as many as 11 sites licensed and operational for next season. There are few things we take more seriously than our forests and our well-deserved acclaim for forest products like maple syrup and quality timber, said Jason Gibbs, commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation. This commonsense partnership recognizes this and strengthens the tradition of Vermont s working landscape.Vermont is the largest U.S. producer of maple syrup and approximately 500,000 gallons of 5.5 million pounds of syrup is produced annually, according to the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association. We have a proud tradition of sugarmaking here in Vermont, said Rick Marsh, president of the association. We re excited to be working with the state in taking the next step to promote and protect the Vermont maple syrup brand.
For the fourth time in four spring practices, USC’s defense exerted its superiority over the offense. The Matt Barkley-led unit consistently had trouble gaining yards against its defensive counterpart, with many passes falling to the turf and few, if any, big runs out of the backfield.Speed bump · The Trojans’ banged-up Matt Barkley-led unit has been trying to close the gap between defense and offense. – Chris Pham | Daily Trojan“The gap’s closing,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “But I think the defense is still a little bit ahead. It doesn’t help not having Robert [Woods], George [Farmer] and Khaled [Holmes] out there.”Granted, the Trojans’ offense is not at full strength. In addition to those three starters, redshirt freshman running back Buck Allen did not practice, as well as redshirt tight ends Xavier Grimble (junior) and Junior Pomee (sophomore).Moreover, this is only spring practice, a time where defenses across the country hold the advantage over their offensive opponents because of the reactionary nature of that side of the ball. During March and April, offenses are still getting their timing and schemes down, while the defense can rely more on athleticism and instinct.Still, there is something to be said about the defense thus far. This is still a USC offense that, although a bit banged up, features eight returning starters, excluding those not practicing because of injuries and including All-Americans Barkley and sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee.And it’s not as if the defense has not had its share of injuries either: sophomore linebacker Dion Bailey sat out with a hamstring injury, while sophomore safety Josh Shaw, a transfer from Florida, missed practice again because of a rib injury.The amount of hype placed on the offense since the end of last season has bordered on excessive, yet still seems deserved. But the Trojans’ defense is happily winning the spring battle while slipping under the radar.“The offense gets the hype, but we take pride in our defense,” senior defensive end Devon Kennard said. “We have to keep improving, but we’re looking good so far.”The defense has shifted one of its players over to the offense to give it an extra boost. Day two of the Tre Madden running back experiment was a success, with the sophomore able to use his size and strength to burst through holes.“He’s an exciting prospect to have there,” Kiffin said. “He has natural instincts and really good ball skills. It’s going to be about learning our system and ball security since he hasn’t been used to carrying the ball in a while.”Madden said running with the ball is not foreign to him.“I played quarterback in high school, so it’s not a shock to have the ball in my hands,” Madden said.Perhaps Madden’s switch will spark the offense. If not, then the defense will enjoy its success while it can, because the amount of offensive talent on the field and on the sideline suggests that it won’t be contained for long.