The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is working to buy 110 acres of Lake Champlain marshland in Colchester that is home to a variety of rare species of fish and plants such as the eastern silvery minnow, black nose shiner, harsh sunflower and a threatened lake cress .
The area, known as Mallets Creek or the Munson Flats Wetlands is just south of Chimney Corners along U.S. Route 7 and I-89. It’s home to common wildlife such as deer, mink, songbirds, osprey and water fowl, and plants such as wild rice.
William Crenshaw, State Biologist says the marshlands are safe from development, but show the scars of agriculture and other human intrusions. The State of Vermont is negotiating to buy 110 acres of the approximately 500 acres of the marsh. Crenshaw said the area will become a wildlife management area that will be open for public use such as hunting, fishing, trapping, bird-watching, and photography.
The property is assessed at $173,800, according to Colchester town records. Money to buy the property comes from fees charged to people seeking duck hunting licenses, Crenshaw said. The 110-acre parcel already was part of a federal wetlands reserve program, which helps landowners protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their property, Crenshaw said.
James Ehlers, executive director of Lake Champlain International, said it is important to protect marshes such as Malletts Creek, and added he is happy at least part of the marsh will be bought and preserved. Plants and soils in marshes filter out pollutants before they can reach Lake Champlain, Ehlers said. Buying the land also will help ensure that development does not encroach on the wetlands, according to Ehlers . Although wetlands are a pollution filter, too much development too close to a marsh could overwhelm its natural ability to cleanse the environment.