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Snow goose photo credit: Vermont Audubon

I went to the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area for their Wildlife Day. The celebration included many workshops such as a bird banding demonstration, soap carving for kids, turkey hunting techniques, working retrievers, nature walks, bluebird box building and snow goose viewing. Although the sky was overcast it was a great day to be outdoors.

Dead Creek WMA (wildlife management area) is well-known for bird watching especially the spring and fall migration of ducks and geese, with thousands taking a break from their journeys in the fields and wetlands of the 2,858 acre WMA. It is located in the towns of Addison, Panton and Bridport, and “has seven impoundments that create cattail dominated wetlands. Water levels are actively managed. Surrounding uplands are a mix of active agricultural lands, old fields and clayplain oak-hickory forests. Hunting, fishing and trapping are allowed on portions. Access to sections of the WMA is regulated because the area is primarily a waterfowl refuge. Dead Creek WMA is owned by the State of Vermont and managed by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.”

So today was a good day to learn more about the refuge and visit with other organizations that protect or educate about wildlife. Some of the displays included The Birds of Vermont Museum, the VT Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, a nature artist, fly-tying demonstration, Jim and Chris Andrew’s reptiles and amphibians and The Nature Conservancy’s Wise on Weeds program.  The amphibian and reptile display was a great draw, especially for children because they had many species of turtle shells to look at, and showed a DVD of Rattlers, Peepers & Snappers, an entertaining and informative guide to all the amphibians and reptiles that breed in New England. I thought Rattlers was a very well-conceived and produced program and highly recommend it.

The Nature Conservancy’s Wise on Weeds program is working with two important groups in Vermont, the Champlain Basin Invasive Plant Partnership which has a focus on land management, and the Vermont Invasive Exotic Plant Committee which provides coordination and guidance on invasive plant issues. The goal of these groups is to control and prevent the spread of invasive plants in Vermont such as Japanese Knotweed, Garlic Mustard, Common Reed and Oriental Bittersweet. The Wise on Weeds program helps people identify invasive plant species and offers volunteer opportunities for control and removal in infested areas. I volunteered to work at the display today to answer questions about invasive plants and how to control them. Many people stopped to ask questions and were surprised to learn how many of the ornamental plants in their yards were considered invasive. Good thing there was a fact sheet available with native and non-invasive plant alternatives to choose from.

After watching The National Parks: America’s Best Idea series on PBS all week, I became even more appreciative of all the parks, refuges and WMA’s  in Vermont. So visit a park or refuge, enjoy all they have to offer and support their preservation.

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