The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwestern Vermont, near the border with Canada. It was created in 1943 to provide habitat for migratory birds travelling between northern breeding grounds and southern wintering areas along the Atlantic Flyway. The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is 6729 acres of mostly wetland habitat and hosts over 200 different species of birds. Fall migration features 20,000-25,000 migrating ducks.
Near the main headquarters are open fields; this is where bobolinks raise their young. Since the 1900’s the bobolink populations in the Northeast have declined – with a 75% decrease over the past 40 years. Bobolinks travel round trip from the pampas in South America – about 12,000 miles. in May they arrive in Vermont to breed, with the young hatching in June. This hatching typically occurs at the same time when farmers are harvesting their first cut of hay, exposing the newborn bobolinks to a 100% mortality rate.
Most of the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is made up of a variety of freshwater wetland habitats which support a variety of migratory birds and other wildlife. Vegetation in many of these marshes includes wild rice, smartweed, pickerel weed, arrowhead and giant burred. Nesting bald eagles, osprey, and a great blue heron rookery on Shad Island – with more than 300 nests – is the home to the largest heron rookery in Vermont, are all resent on the refuge.Shad Island is located on the refuge near the delta where the Missisquoi River flows into Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay. The marshes provide some of the best examples of these wetland communities in the State of Vermont.
The warm shallow water of the Missisquoi Delta provides excellent fishing opportunities on and around the refuge. Refuge boat launch facilities at Louie’s Landing and seasonally at Macs Bend allow boaters quick access to the river and Lake Champlain. The refuge hosts a Children’s Fishing Clinic each June/July where young anglers 15 yrs. of age or younger can fish along the banks of the Missisquoi River and receive excellent instruction regarding spin casting, fly tying, river/lake ecology, aquatic invasive species and other related fishing activities.
The refuge hosts annual events such as International Migratory Bird Day on the third Saturday in May. This event is coupled with the refuge open house and art display featuring local artists and photographers. The Junior Waterfowl Hunter Training program is held the third Saturday in August, providing expert instruction both indoors and outdoors for young waterfowlers age 12-15.
The first Saturday in May is Refuge green Up Day during which staff and volunteers conduct a cleanup of refuge waterways.
The Friends of Missisquoi NWR provide Monthly bird walks on the third Saturday of each month and a photography/nature walk on the first Saturday of each month. Bog walks, Vernal Pool walks, Owl Prowls occur seasonally during the year.
The Refuge HQ offers a large classroom for schools, summer camps, and other groups complete with audio/visual projection. Displays and exhibits are available in the HQ building as well. A hiking trail begins at the south entrance of the HQ building and offers educational opportunities to discuss green energy, macroinvertebrates, grassland habitats and a variety of other subject matter with students. The refuge provides outdoor classroom experiences to local schools and summer camps.
The refuge is also the contact point for the State of Vermont regarding the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program. This program which is available to all schools, homeschools and organizations encourages cross curriculum learning with the arts and sciences resulting in an art entry which competes at the state level.
Classified as a pitch pine woodland bog, the Maquam Bog is the only community of its kind in Vermont and one of only a few found in all of New England.The Maquam Bog is a 900 acre bog community that has been shaped and maintained by fires and flooding. The depth of the peat ranges from 2.5 ft to 8 ft deep.
The vegetative community of the bog features pitch pine, rare Virginia chain fern, blueberries, a variety of sphagnum moss species and is dominated by rhodora.
The bog is also home to moose, short eared owls, shrikes and serves as a wintering area for whitetail deer. Please note that the bog is closed to all public use except for upland game hunting. Special Use Permits may be applied for to access the bog for other purposes, please contact the refuge manager for details.
The Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge is located at 29 Tabor Road (just off Route 78) in Swanton, VT, telephone = (802) 868-4781 http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Missisquoi/
Visitor Center hours:
Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturdays (May 19 to October 27) 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Please note that most public use is permitted only on designated trails or along the Missisquoi River
Other Lake Champlain Points of Interest: