PITTSFORD, Vt. – A central Vermont wildlife management area popular with birders and waterfowl hunters has nearly doubled in size, thanks to a donation of land by the Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO).
The Pomainville Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Pittsford has added two sections of land that will increase the total area from 360 acres to 572 acres. The additions include a small section of floodplain forest along Otter Creek and a large parcel of softwood forest on the east side of Route 7.
The WMA was originally purchased by Ducks Unlimited in 2004 and was donated to Vermont Fish & Wildlife a year later. The lands were purchased to create a forested buffer along Otter Creek and to restore 46 acres of formerly drained wetlands, the largest wetland reserve project ever completed in Vermont at that time.
“The grasslands at Pomainville WMA are beloved by birders looking to spot grassland birds such as bobolinks,” said Jane Lazorchak, land acquisition coordinator for Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “The new additions to the WMA include a large area of important deer wintering habitat, which also serves as a travel corridor for wildlife looking to cross Route 7. There is also seasonally flooded forest along Otter Creek that supports nesting wood ducks and other wetland wildlife such as otters.”
The restoration project along Otter Creek has turned what were at one time seasonally flooded hayfields into productive wetlands and natural fish ponds. The ponds fill with water when Otter Creek floods in the spring, bringing in fish that use the ponds as spawning grounds before returning to the main flow of the creek. The young fish remain relatively protected from predators as they grow in the ponds and are able to return to the main flow of Otter Creek during the next flood cycle.
The increase in fish provided by these natural ponds benefits local anglers, and additionally serves to keep mosquito numbers down as the fish prey on mosquitoes and their larvae.
“These ponds are just incredible in terms of the amount of fish they produce for the Otter Creek system,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist for Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “We sampled the ponds again this fall and found that they were once again loaded with northern pike, along with many other fish species.”
The new lands were purchased by VELCO in 2004 as part of a mitigation agreement with the understanding that they would turn the lands over to the Fish & Wildlife Department within ten years.
“VELCO has once again been a fantastic partner in helping to conserve wildlife habitat in Vermont,” said Lazorchak.