Category Archives: Points of Interest

points of interest, locations and attractions related to the history of the Lake Champlain Valley

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.


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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.

Upper Fish Bladder Island – Lake Champlain Islands

Upper Fish Bladder Island – Lake Champlain Islands

 Upper Fishbladder Island


Upper Fish Bladder Island is a very small island just east of South Hero, Vermont; it is sometimes connected to Fish Bladder Island  when there are low-water conditions. The wooded, undeveloped island is owned and maintained by the Green Mountain Audubon Society as a bird sanctuary.


Upper Fishbladder Island

Upper Fish Bladder serves as an important bird nesting site and staging area for the Herring Gull, Great Blue Heron, and potentially the Common Tern.




Upper Fish Bladder Island was donated to the Lake Champlain Land Trust by the late Mary Haas-Burak in 2000. The Lake Champlain Land Trust accepted Upper Fish Bladder thanks to the generosity of the landowner.

The Lake Champlain Land Trust later donated three islands, including Upper Fish Bladder Island, to the Green Mountain Audubon Society. This island is now managed by the Green Mountain Audubon Society, with the conservation easement still held by the Land Trust.

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Other Articles About Lake Champlain Islands:   List of Lake Champlain's Islands

Fish Bladder Island – Lake Champlain Islands

Fish Bladder Island – Lake Champlain Islands

Fish Bladder Island - Lake Champlain Islands


Fish Bladder Island is a privately owned 11.6-Acre Island in Lake Champlain located just minutes off the causeway to the Champlain Islands – just east of South Hero, Vermont and just north of Cedar Island. 

Fish Bladder Island features gently rolling terrain, a beach, and protected coves for docking. The island features a newly constructed residence with boat storage area on the lower level and another two bedroom guest house.

In times of low water Fish Bladder is connected by a sand bridge to Upper Fishbladder Island to the north. Upper Fishbladder is owned and managed by the Green Mountain Audubon Society as a bird sanctuary.

Fish Bladder and Upper Fishbladder Island - Lake Champlain Islands


Fishbladder Island - Lake Champlain Islands


In October 2007 a wind-whipped fire destroyed an Adirondack style camp on the island. Firefighters had to be ferried to the island from South Hero, VT to fight the blaze.


Video Tour of Fishbladder Island

Other Articles About Lake Champlain Islands:   List of Lake Champlain's Islands

East Bay Wildlife Management Area

East Bay Wildlife Management Area

East Bay Wildlife Management Area


The East Bay Wildlife Management Area encompasses 38 acres in the Washington County town of Whitehall, New York. The WMA is north of the Sciota Road (County Route 10).

East Bay Wildlife Management Area signThe land was purchased from Donald and Ann Touch in 1984 with money from the Environmental Bond Act of 1972. The area, known locally as part of Finch Marsh, lies in a narrow river valley among steep sided hills. A scenic; ledge borders the northern portion of the property. The rest of the marsh to the west and northwest are lands owned by the Nature Conservancy. The neighborhood around the marsh is used for agriculture and rural residential purposes.


The majority of the parcel is emergent marsh. Emergent marshes are areas that have approximately six inches of water during the growing season or permanently. The dominant plants are “emergent” species such as cattails, arrowhead, pickerel weed, rush and smartweed to name a few.

The wetland portion of the property has also been designated as a flood hazard zone. Flooding occurs not only during heavy rains and intense spring thaws, but also during periods of prolonged Northerly winds in which the water from Lake Champlain is displaced to the south.

Fish and Wildlife

East Bay Wildlife Management Area muskrat

East Bay WMA muskrat

Emergent marshes are considered the most valuable of our wetland areas and East Bay Wildlife Management Area is no exception. Here, waterfowl can be found in abundance, using the area for resting during the spring and fall migrations and for rearing young ducklings during the summer months. Hunters can find should look for mallards, black duck, teal, merganser and wood ducks. Trappers will find that the high productive quality of the marsh is such that it produces a high population of muskrats. During the winter months, muskrat houses can easily be seen protruding above the ice and snow. These valuable and prolific furbearers also share their wetland home with beaver, mink and otter.

East Bay is home to a diverse fisheries community and a popular fishing hot spot in both the summer and winter months. Fisherman can expect to find bass, crappie, walleye, pike, catfish and panfish in relative abundance. Two hand launches are located a short distance from the parking area off of Sciota Road (County Route 10).

East Bay WMA is an identified Bird Conservation Area (BCA). New York State Bird Conservation Areas are state-owned lands and waters designated to safeguard and enhance populations of birds in New York State. These areas provide important habitats for birds. In spring and summer, many birds rely on these areas for breeding, food, and shelter. Some birds winter at BCA’s, while others use BCA’s as resting and feeding areas during migration. BCA’s are designated as they support one or more of the following: An unusually high diversity of bird species; large concentrations of one or more bird species; endangered, threatened, or rare bird species; or an exceptional or rare bird habitat.
A variety of wildlife can be seen in the area.


East Bay WMA hardwoods

East Bay WMA hardwoods

The primary purposes of East Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. The WMA is open year-round, but parking lots are not plowed in winter months.

East Bay WMA is managed by DEC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife for wildlife conservation and wildlife-associated recreation (hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing/photography). Funding to maintain and manage this site is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration or “Pittman-Robertson” Act, which is acquired through excise taxes on sporting arms, ammunition and archery equipment.


The following activities are not permitted in East Bay WMA:

  • Using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • snowmobiles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming or bathing
  • Camping
  • Kindling fires
  • Using metal detectors, searching for or removing historic or cultural artifacts without a permit
  • Damaging or removing gates, fences, signs or other property
  • Overnight storage of boats
  • Cutting, removing or damaging living vegetation
  • Construction of permanent blinds or other structures such as tree stands
  • Littering
  • Storage of personal property
East Bay WMA map

East Bay WMA map
(Click Image to Enlarge)

NOTE: Ticks are active whenever temperatures are above freezing but especially so in the late spring and early fall. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme and several other diseases.




From Whitehall, take US Route 4 east for 1 mile. Turn left onto County Route 9A and proceed 1 mile to end. Turn right onto County Route 9 and proceed ½ mile. Turn left on Stalker Rd. and proceed ½ mile to end. Turn right on Sciota Rd. (County Route 10) and proceed for ¼ mile. The WMA and parking area is on the left




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