VT Fish & Wildlife Manages Popular Wetland Area

Fish & Wildlife Manages Popular Wetland Area To Promote Bird Habitat, Improve Water Quality

 

Every August, biologists with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department intentionally lower water levels along several impoundments at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison. The goal of these annual water drawdowns is to promote healthy wetlands on the almost 3,000 acre property.

According to Amy Alfieri, a Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist who manages Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, systematically flooding the wetlands and exposing the soil allows plants that migrating waterfowl eat to grow. Many of these plants are annuals, such as smartweed, beggarticks, and millet. By mimicking the water level fluctuations of a natural wetland, cattails, bulrushes, and sedges flourish, providing food and nesting habitat for waterfowl. The drawdowns also create mudflats which attract migrating shorebirds in August and September that feed on invertebrates burrowed in the mud. Shallow flooding in September and October increases availability of seeds and invertebrates for wading shorebirds.

‘The wetlands promoted by the annual drawdowns provide places for a variety of birds to thrive from spring through fall,’ said Alfieri. ‘By the time the ducks and geese are done nesting among the reeds in the summer, shorebirds are passing through to feed in the mud flats and shallow waters. This is followed shortly by the arrival of thousands of migrating waterfowl, including snow geese. All the while, hawks and eagles can be seen soaring over the marshes and fields in pursuit of these birds.

Dead Creek remains one of the most popular destinations in Vermont for duck hunters, in large part because various species of waterfowl are attracted to its nesting and feeding sources. Bird watchers have documented more than 250 species of birds at the wildlife management area, and late August through September is one of the best times to spot shorebirds at Dead Creek. Statewide, wildlife-watchers and hunters each contribute roughly $290 million to Vermont’s economy each year, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

In addition to providing wildlife habitat, these wetlands also improve water quality and help buffer against flooding.

‘By managing water levels and promoting wetland plants, we’re creating giant sponges of vegetation that soak up excess water during rainstorms,’ said Alfieri. ‘The wetland plants also filter nutrients and pollutants out of the water, improving water quality on Lake Champlain for fishing, swimming, and drinking.’

As costs from flood damage and Lake Champlain cleanup mount, conservationists are increasingly turning to conserving wetlands and other natural infrastructure as one of many cost-effective solutions to address these issues.

 

Other Articles on Lake Champlain Valley WMA's:

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Upgrading Fishing Access Areas

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Upgrading Fishing Access Areas

Department Focusing on ADA Accessibility Improvements

 

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Upgrading Fishing Access AreasThe Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is over halfway to completion on a series of fishing access area improvement projects designed to enhance accessibility for anglers and boaters, including those with disabilities.

“We’re working on various improvements to a number of fishing access areas across the state, all with the common goal of making the areas more user-friendly for all boaters and anglers,” said Mike Wichrowski, lands and facilities administrator with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “One key component of the projects is ADA accessibility, including improved docks, access paths and parking spaces.”

This summer, eight new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant docks have been installed at fishing access areas in Rutland, Newport, Orleans, Addison and Essex counties.

New docks can be found at Lake St. Catherine in Wells, Whipple Point and South Bay on Lake Memphremagog in Newport, Seymour Lake in Morgan, Crystal Lake in Barton, Island Pond in Brighton, Larrabee’s Point on Lake Champlain in Shoreham, and Benson Landing on Lake Champlain in Benson.

Additional access area upgrades are planned for next summer at Marshfield Reservoir in Cabot, Big Salem Lake in Derby, Chimney Point on Lake Champlain in Addison, and Lake Dunmore in Salisbury. Improvements will include ADA access paths and paved parking areas.

“We are always working to bring more access areas into alignment with the 2010 ADA standards for accessible design, and are proud to offer the public over 20 sites across the state that meet those requirements,” Wichrowski said.

In total, Vermont Fish & Wildlife maintains more than 180 developed fishing access areas that are open to the public, free of charge, year-round.

To find a fishing access area or learn more about Vermont’s access area program, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com. For a complete listing of current ADA accessible access areas, use the “advanced search” option found on the fishing access areas page, and select the “universal access” filter.

Anyone with questions about Vermont’s fishing access areas may contact Mike Wichrowski at 802-917-1347.

 

Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets

Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets

 

Great Blue Heron. Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets

This Great Blue Heron is watching something very intently. Do you wonder what it Is?

It’s another beautiful Alburgh sunset over Lake Champlain.

Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets in Alburgh Vermont

Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets in Alburgh Vermont

 

These photos by Kathy Longe show that everyone enjoys Lake Champlain sunsets … even Blue Herons.

Great Blue Heron.. Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets

Great Blue Heron

 

Two fish certified as new Vermont state records

Two fish caught in Lake Champlain tributaries certified as new Vermont state records

 

Chase Stokes of Ferrisburgh holds the new Vermont state record carp he caught while fishing the Otter Creek in April - one of two new Vermont State records

Chase Stokes set a new state record for carp with this catch, weighing 33.25 pounds and measuring 40 inches in length. The carp was one of two new Vermont State records

 

A new state record carp, weighing 33.25 pounds and measuring 40 inches in length, was caught in Otter Creek by Ferrisburgh angler Chase Stokes in April. Stokes, an accomplished Vermont youth angler, caught the carp in the town of Panton. The fish had a total girth of 26.5 inches at its widest point. The former record carp weighed 33 pounds and measured 35 inches.

A second state record for redhorse sucker has also been certified. In May Mike Elwood of Burlington caught a redhorse sucker in the Winooski River that weighed 9.96 pounds, measured 29 inches in length and had a total girth of 18 inches. Elwood caught the redhorse sucker in the town of Colchester. The previous record redhorse sucker weighed 9 pounds and measured 27.5 inches in length.

 

Mike Elwood of Burlington with the new Vermont state record redhorse sucker he caught while fishing the Winooski River in May - one of two new Vermont State records

Mike Elwood of Burlington landed a redhorse sucker in the Winooski River in May which weighed 9.96 pounds, measured 29 inches in length and had a total girth of 18 inches. It was one of two new Vermont State records

Both of the new Vermont state records were made official this week after a thorough review process by fisheries biologists from Vermont Fish & Wildlife. The records are for the traditional method of angling, as opposed to bowfishing which are also recognized for records for both species.

 

“The two fish add to the remarkable list of record fish being caught in Vermont year in and year out,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “15 state records have been set for individual species of fish since 2010, and that list will likely grow as more and more anglers chase many of Vermont’s lesser-known, non-traditional fish species.

“We currently certify records for 41 different species of fish found in Vermont, so the opportunities for anglers to learn about and target trophy-class fish of a range of species are tremendous,” added Good. “Chase and Mike are both accomplished anglers and long-time participants of our Master Angler program, and their catches are certainly indicative of both their talent and passion for fishing.”

 

Good also noted that the frequency of record fish catches in Vermont in recent years provides added incentive for anglers to get out on the water this summer and fall.

 

“There seems to be some extra buzz in the Vermont angling community right now given the quality of fish being caught regularly across so many different species,” said Good. “It’s always exciting to go fishing, and it makes it that much more exhilarating when you know your very next cast could lead to a new state record.”

 

To learn more about Vermont’s record fish program, fishing in Vermont, or to purchase a fishing license, visit vtfishandwildlife.com.

Fort Ste. Anne

Fort Ste. Anne, Isle La Motte, Vermont

In 1665, the French sought to protect their colony in New France (now Canada) along the Saint Lawrence River from attacks by the Iroquois. Their defensive plan was to built a string of five forts stretching along the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain. Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy had the forts built by four companies of the Carignan-Salières Regiment. The first three forts were built in 1665, and the other two in 1666. Fort Richelieu, Fort Chambly, Fort Sainte Thérèse and Fort Saint-Jean protected the Richelieu itself.

 

Fort Ste. Anne, the southernmost fort was built on a sandy point on Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain – about six miles from where the Lake empties into the Richelieu River. The fort was dedicated to Saint Anne. Fort Ste. Anne was the most vulnerable to attacks by the Iroquois, because it was the last of five forts stretching along the Richelieu River route going south. It was completed in July 1666 by French troops under the command of Captain Pierre de La Motte, and was quite small; only measuring about 144′ x 96′. It was a double log palisade about 15′ high – with four bastions.

Though occupied for only six years, Fort Ste. Anne was the scene of many important events. Because of numerous deadly Mohawk attacks on French settlements to the north, the decision was made to take the offensive and attack the Iroquois villages, far south on the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. The sandy point (and the area across the lake at the mouth of the Chazy River) became the staging grounds for several major attacks on Iroquois villages. French attacks on British settlements and Iroquois villages would continue from Fort St. Frédéric (Crown Point) and Carillon (Ticonderoga) long after Fort Ste. Anne was abandoned.

Fort Ste. Anne was undoubtedly a desolate  and fearsome place to be stationed. Deep in an impenetrable wilderness, accessible only by water, subject to fierce winds and deep snows, the few hardy souls who resided here suffered terribly from both the elements and disease. Scurvy was rampant. Isolation and loneliness took a terrible toll.

All traces of the wooden fort were gone by the mid-1800-s, but you can still determine where the fort stood. The sandy point where the structure was located now is now the site of the ‘Way of Calvary’ at Saint Anne’s Shrine; a tree-shaded place where Catholics can visit the Stations of the Cross.

 

 

 

That sandy point of Isle La Motte has been significant in the  history of the lake.

  • Before the first French missionaries visited the region the point was a gathering place for Native Americans.
  • Samuel de Champlain stopped here when he first visited the lake in 1604.
  • Father (now Saint) Isaac Jogues most likely stopped off at the point during his numerous and ill-fated journeys up and down the lakes.
  • French troops and their allies staged here for attacks against the Iroquois and British.

 

In a 1937 travel guide to Vermont the description of the site of Fort Ste. Anne in Isle la Motte offers an interesting, but romanticized, description of a lovely, sacred, and historic location.

“Here in the calm of shaded lakeside beauty, French soldiers under Capt. de La Motte built a fort in 1666 for protection against the Mohawks, and here in the essence of Champlain island loveliness was the scene of Vermont’s first, though impermanent, white settlement. The beauty of Ste. Anne is deepened by history— the pictures brought to mind of swashbuckling French gallants casting off uniform-coats to swing axes and ply spades; the solemn-faced Jesuits in their dark garb; and a garrison of 300 men celebrating mass on this wilderness isle in the chapel of Fort Ste. Anne, the first mass to be held in the State.”

 

Saint Anne’s Shrine

In the late 1800’s, Bishop Louis de Goesbriand, of the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont acquired the property where the fort was located. A shrine, dedicated to Saint Anne de Beaupre, as was the French fort, was opened by the Bishop on July 26, 1893. In 1904, the Shrine was entrusted to the care of the Edmundite Fathers, founders of Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

Fort Ste Anne site , Isle La Motte, Vermont

Samuel de Champlain statue

 

Over the years the Shrine has grown in both size and popularity. In addition to a large, open-air chapel, there are now several other buildings on site, including one that houses a small museum with a number of artifacts excavated from the site of the French fortress. In addition to the Chapel and the  ‘Way of Calvary’ a 15′ gilded statue of the Virgin Mary serves the devotional needs of visitors. This impressive statue used to adorn the bell tower of Burlington’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The Cathedral was destroyed by fire in March, 1972. The Diocese of Burlington donated the statue in 1991 to the Shrine.3

 

In 1968, the State of Vermont donated a statue of the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain. This impressive monument was sculpted by F.L. Weber in Montreal during Expo ’67.