Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area
In the western foothills of the Green Mountains of Vermont, the dramatic cliffs of White Rocks National Recreation Area provide a stunning backdrop for visitors and residents. Outdoor adventurers can explore mature hemlock and oak forests, which are rich with rare vegetation and wildlife. Anglers can spend a whole day fishing for brook trout from Otter Creek, the state’s longest river, which meanders through the proposed Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) before eventually emptying into Lake Champlain. But beyond their beauty and recreation opportunities, areas like the proposed Otter Creek WMA hold something more powerful. The extensive wetlands system safeguards local communities by decreasing flood risk and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Two miles upstream from the historic village of Wallingford, 347 acres around Otter Creek are in danger of development and fragmentation—jeopardizing water quality, endangering rare species, and increasing flood risk to downstream communities. In 2011, protected wetlands and floodplains further down the Otter Creek Basin prevented $1.8 million of flood damage in the town of Middlebury, VT during Tropical Storm Irene. With increased precipitation and extreme storm events due to climate change, preserving wetlands, floodplains and upland forest is critical to protecting local communities, like in Wallingford, VT where essential buildings—their fire station, elementary school, and town garage—are all vulnerable to flood risk. In partnership with the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife, we have the opportunity to protect this landscape as an expansion to the Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area—helping build stronger, more climate-resilient communities for Vermonters.