August 18, 2015
Vermont Fish & Wildlife has received a $330,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to purchase 459 acres of property that serves as habitat for the federally endangered Northeastern bulrush. The land to be purchased extends the Turner Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which represents one of only four publically owned locations of the bulrush in the state. The grant is part of the 2015 Endangered Species Recovery Land Acquisition Grants program and will be leveraged with state funds from the Vermont Duck Stamp Fund and the Vermont Habitat Stamp Program to conserve these important lands, as well as a generous bargain sale from one of the landowners.
Turner Hill is home to the Athens Dome Wetland Complex Area, and supports several wetlands and beaver flowages, that contain ideal habitat for the Northeastern bulrush and migratory waterfowl among other species. Management plans for the land include establishing buffers around all wetlands, monitoring and removing any newly introduced invasive plants, and carefully considering the placement of access roads to protect the wetlands and the overall hydrology of the property.
"This grant is quite exciting because it will allow us to continue to protect a very significant Northeastern bulrush population within a large tract of unfragmented forest," said Jane Lazorchak, lands acquisition coordinator for Vermont Fish & Wildlife. "This plant occurs exclusively in beaver-influenced wetlands when the water levels are right. Turner Hill WMA and these new additions occur in a remote area where beavers can come and go, creating new wetlands without posing any potential conflict with humans like they often do along roads and near houses. By protecting this land, beavers and other forested wetland species will have a better chance of persisting."
Lazorchak notes that the purchase of the land was made through agreements with landowners, Vance Dewitt and Peter and Susan Sheehan, to enlarge the Turner Hill WMA. "Thanks to the generosity and the patience of these landowners and support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, we will be able to protect land that not only provides habitat for bulrush, but also for waterfowl, moose, bear, otter, beaver, and other species identified in Vermont's Wildlife Action Plan as Species of Greatest Conservation Need."
The land will also provide year-round public access for low-impact, compatible recreation, including hiking, nature study, and hunting and fishing, in an area of the state with little publicly owned land.
"We welcome this grant because it not only protects a vulnerable species, the Northeastern bulrush," said Commissioner Louis Porter, "but as with all our wildlife management areas, Turner Hill provides all Vermonters for generations to come with public lands they can use to connect with nature, whether it's through hunting, fishing, or wildlife watching."
"Vermont's plan for protecting this important piece of land exemplifies the principles of the granting program," said Wendi Weber, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director. "Long-term habitat protection is essential to conserving the future of this rare wetland plant. We appreciate the hard work and commitment of the Vermont staff in undertaking this effort."
More information on the Northeastern bulrush and Turner Hill WMA can be found at the department's website at vtfishandwildlife.com and on the 2015 Endangered Species Recovery Land Acquisition Grants at www.fws.gov.
Media Contacts: John Austin, Lands & Habitat Program Manager, (802) 476-0197; Jane Lazorchak, Lands Acquisition Coordinator, (802) 505-0561
Source: Department of Fish and Wildlife
Last Updated at: August 18, 2015 13:09:56