As Feds Weaken Wetlands Rules, Locals Eye Greater Protections For Otter Creek Swamps

Photo, from left: Marc Lapin of Middlebury College, along with Tina Heath, Charlie Hohn and Zapata Courage from the state wetlands program. They recently toured the Cornwall swamp section of the Otter Creek wetlands. JOHN DILLON / VPR

The state’s largest wetlands area stretches 15 miles along the Otter Creek in Addison and Rutland counties. Local groups have started talking to the state about how to provide greater protection for the Otter Creek wetlands, as the Trump administration seeks to roll back national wetland protection rules.

The wetlands area along Otter Creek is richly diverse and hosts rare plant and animal species. It also serves as a giant sponge capable of absorbing flood waters. That value was demonstrated during Tropical Storm Irene, when Middlebury was spared much of the damage from the storm.

And a wetland in winter can be a very welcoming place. Marc Lapin, a professor of environmental studies at Middlebury College, explained that in general, wetlands are more hospitable when the water is frozen.

“One, it’s easier to walk actually,” Lapin said. “And two, there are no mosquitoes right now. People think we’re kind of nuts for going out in places like this during mosquito season.”

Lapin, who is also a member of the Cornwall Conservation Commission, teamed up with three people from the state wetlands program recently to get a better sense of what’s out here in this section of Cornwall swamp.

We should note that a swamp is just one type of wetland. There are also bogs, fens and marshes.

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As Feds Weaken Wetlands Rules, Locals Eye Greater Protections For Otter Creek Swamps
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As Feds Weaken Wetlands Rules, Locals Eye Greater Protections For Otter Creek Swamps
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The wetlands area along Otter Creek is richly diverse and hosts rare plant and animal species. It is also capable of absorbing flood waters.
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Vermont Public Radio
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