Celebrate World Wetlands Day by restoring Vermont’s wetlands

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Celebrate World Wetlands Day by restoring Vermont’s wetlands

Thu, 02/02/2023 - 4:59pm -- tim

blue heron eating a fish

A game camera set up at the restoration site in 2016 captured numerous species using the restored site such as river otter, raccoon, white tailed deer, beaver, rabbit, osprey, and this blue heron feeding on a fish with ducks in the background; photo provided by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

Vermont Business Magazine Today, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recognizes World Wetlands Day and invites Vermonters to celebrate the value of wetlands. From fens and bogs to marshes and swamps, Vermont’s diverse wetlands mark where land and water meet. Spanning over 300,000 acres, wetlands may be saturated or flooded with water either year-round or for a few weeks of the year.

First celebrated in 1997, World Wetlands Day raises awareness about wetlands and the functions and values they provide for people and for the health of the land. This year’s theme centers on wetland restoration and how to restore degraded wetlands.

“Before adopting the Vermont Wetland Rules in 1990, we lost over a third of our wetlands – mostly due to development and agriculture,” said DEC Commissioner John Beling. “When we look forward and talk about our state’s resilience to climate change, wetlands are a big part of the conversation. Given their ability to store carbon and absorb excess flood water, we must work to restore and protect wetlands.”

World Wetlands Day also marks the anniversary of the global Convention on Wetlands (or the “Ramsar Convention”). Adopted in 1971, the Convention on Wetlands is an international treaty that provides a framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands

The Convention on Wetlands offers seven reasons to explain why it’s time for wetland restoration worldwide:

  1. Freshwater is rare. Wetlands provide most of it.
  2. Wetlands store more carbon than forests.
  3. Wetlands help communities cope with storms and ­flooding.
  4. Wetlands are a source of livelihoods and food.
  5. Wetlands are being lost three times faster than forests globally.
  6. Human activities are driving wetland degradation.
  7. Wetland plant, animal, and bird species are facing extinction.

In Vermont, many state and federal government agencies, non-profits, farmers, and willing landowners are working to protect and restore the state’s wetlands when feasible. From planting trees and shrubs to relocating pasture animals, restoration can take many forms with the landowner often receiving financial compensation.

One success story is the restoration of a historic agricultural field along the Otter Creek. The restored field now helps to absorb excess flood water and reduces the risk of flooding downstream. Across 125 acres, the field also supports the natural regeneration of a diversity of wetland habitats that provide homes for a variety of fish and wildlife.

In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has used Clean Water Act funding over the past five years to support wetland conservation and restoration in the Otter Creek watershed.

To find information on local wetland initiatives, native plants, restoration, funding, and more, visit the Vermont Wetlands Program’s online resources. For more information about World Wetlands Day, including best practices for restoration, go to worldwetlandsday.org. If Laura Lapierre is not available, contact Zapata Courage at [email protected] or 802-490-6179.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for protecting Vermont's natural resources and safeguarding human health for the benefit of this and future generations. Visit dec.vermont.gov and follow the Department of Environmental Conservation on Facebook and Instagram.

First celebrated in 1997, World Wetlands Day raises awareness about wetlands; this year’s theme centers on wetland restoration and how to restore degraded wetlands.

wetlands transformation

Restoration site along the Otter Creek River in 2011 before restoration, 2014 after the first year of restoration, and in 2017, three years later; photos provided by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

2.2.2023. Montpelier, VT – Department of Environmental Conservation