Stories of our connected and rapidly changing region.

cpb-logo

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

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. Photo by John Dillon for VPR

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. Photo by John Dillon for 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.

Visit VPR for the full story.