We were joined by federal employees and legislators with neighbors, friends and my colleagues from Vermont farm bureau to join in
A Ceremony which Celebrated Vermont’s Largest, Federally Protected, Privately-Owned Wetland
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Vermont will celebrate the closing of the state’s largest federally protected wetland easement to date at the farm of Jim and Lyn Des Marais in the Otter Creek Watershed. They enrolled nearly 500 acres of wetland acreage into the Farm Bill Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, ACEP, through a Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) which will restore, protect and enhance the enrolled wetlands. ACEP offers financial and technical assistance to landowners who want to voluntarily restore and protect wetlands.
The Des Marais wetland easement is part of a cluster of easements that continues to grow along Otter Creek in Addison and Rutland Counties. With the addition of this large easement, and another easement downstream which will soon be secured, over seven miles of wetlands and riparian areas along the Otter Creek will be conserved. Restoring the wetlands here will also improve the floodwater, sediment and nutrient retention values of these wetlands and will benefit Lake Champlain’s water quality goals. After the ceremony, wetland specialists from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will explain the restoration plans and discuss the environmental, wildlife, and water quality benefits.
The Otter Creek Watershed flows to Lake Champlain and is home to many wetlands which were restored thanks to the stewardship of private landowners. These vulnerable wetlands, once altered by farm ditches, are now safeguarded by permanent easements that ensure the protection of these critical ecosystems.