In 2007, a stunning 458-acre parcel on Lake Memphremagog was donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the estate of Michael Dunn. Although it is technically part of the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, the property is managed by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department as a wildlife management area. Located only 5 miles north of the City of Newport, the undeveloped shoreline is a welcome contrast to the southern end of the lake. In addition to the forested lakeshore habitat, the WMA includes two wetlands and several large meadows.
Located in the towns of Plymouth and Shrewsbury, the Plymsbury WMA is also nestled within the Coolidge State Forest. These two tracks of state land combined provide a critical link between the southern and northern portions of the Green Mountain National Forest.
Nestled in the northwestern corner of Vermont, the 872-acre Maquam Wildlife Management Area is nearly split in half by route 36. The southern half, or Lampman portion, is mostly woodlands while the northern half, or Maquam Bay side, borders Lake Champlain. The Maquam WMA and surrounding land not only has a rich history, it also has fertile soils, productive wetlands and a well managed forest that support a rich diversity of habitats and wildlife. The wetland portion is great for spotting waterfowl, wading birds and aquatic mammals like beaver, muskrat and river otters. The early successional habitat is great for grouse and woodcock. Adjacent farmland and hardwoods attract turkey, deer and a host of other popular wildlife species.
Every November during Vermont’s youth deer hunting season, check stations across the state are filled with smiling kids and proud parents. Deer are reported, stories shared, and photos taken. But at a handful of check stations, a lot more goes on. Since 1963 the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has annually operated special biological check stations to gather the data needed to monitor the health of the deer herd. This information and other data help state biologists determine science-driven management strategies.
West Mountain Wildlife Management Area is located in the remote Northeast Kingdown towns of Ferdinand, Maidstone and Brunswick. Covering nearly 23,000 acres, it is the largest and wildest WMA in Vermont, and it borders tens of thousands of acres of conserved commercial forest land. The West Mountain WMA is home to 14 species of plants that are rare or endangered in Vermont and eight sites of ecological significance. Its many ponds, bogs and wetlands provide nesting and roosting habitat for migratory waterfowl, and its deep forests have a long history of producing large northwoods deer.
Lawrence Pyne heads for Quimby Country, a storied hunting and fishing camp in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. There, he enjoys some upland bird hunting. West Mountain Wildlife Management Area, covering nearly 23,000 acres, occupies parts of Ferdinand, Maidstone and Brunswick, Vt. It's a diverse and important ecosystem, and is home to many rare or endangered plants.
The Pomainville Wildlife Management Area in Pittsford, VT covers 360 acres of former farmland along the east bank of the Otter Creek. Thanks to partnerships with the Pomainville family, Ducks Unlimited and other conservation groups, this unique property was acquired by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department in 2005, and its diverse habitats are now being managed and restored for the benefit of both fish and wildlife.
Every October, the skies over Addison, Vt., are alive with geese. That's when thousands of migrating Canada and snow geese descend on the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area for a little feeding and lots of honking on their way south for the winter. It's an area where hunters and bird watchers co-exist. Host Marianne Eaton and Bryan Pfeiffer of Vermont Bird Tours visit Dead Creek to see the geese make the annual stopover. While there, they venture into the management area to explore other habitats where wildlife exist.
Vermont has more than 80 state wildlife management areas covering well over 100,000 acres. Management activities on these areas vary by habitat type, but perhaps none are more intensively managed than wetland wildlife management ares. Although wetland areas like the Dead Creek WMA in Addison look often like they do not need any improving, behind the scenes state biologists and volunteers work year-round to make them as attractive and beneficial to wildlife as possible.
The centerpiece of the nearly 5,000-acre Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area is Victory Bog. This shrubby, peat-moss wetland is fed by small streams that drain the mountains that ring the basin, which eventually flow into the Moose River. Victory Bog is home to several unusual plants, including the insect-eating pitcher plant. With its diversity of rare bird species and network of maintained trails, Victory Basin attracts bird watchers from across the region. But it also hosts a variety of other outdoor activities.