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Wildlife Watch: Visiting Vermont’s newest Wildlife Management Area

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 3:39 PM EDT
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SHREWSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is opening its 100th Wildlife Management Area to the public. The 500-plus-acre spread is in Shrewsbury. Our Ike Bendavid gives you a look.

In the middle of the forest in Rutland County, this land of more than 500 acres is now home to the state's newest Wildlife Management Area.

“This area is pretty spectacular. I feel it’s not only important for wildlife but the cultural perspective. We are standing on what was one of the oldest farms in Shrewsbury, so people connect with this place in many ways whether it’s the wildlife or cultural resources,” said Jane Lazorchak of Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

It was started when local community members identified the importance of the land for wildlife.

“The land that we are conserving today was identified as a really crucial habitat for wildlife corridors and movement,” said Louise Duda of the Shrewsbury Conservation Commission.

The local community members wanted to conserve the land but it was privately owned and used for a short time for logging.

"We wanted somebody to buy it and manage it for a wildlife corridor," Duda said.

The locals reached out to the Vermont Land Trust and they went over options on how to move forward.

"We were an early partner. We worked with the community to try to figure out how to get this done," said Donald Campbell of the Vermont Land Trust.

They ended up partnering with the state which has bought the land.

“We, in the end, realized that the resources warranted here not a state park, not a state forest but a Wildlife Management Area for the importance of this area,” Lazorchak said.

And this one has some significance.

“This area is really significant in respect to connections for wildlife going east to west between other public land connections, as well as private land that provides habitat for them and it’s the site of what will be our 100th Wildlife Management Area in 100 years in Vermont!” Lazorchak said. “Wildlife Management Areas are one of the myriads of state land ownerships in Vermont. Unlike state forests and state parks, the real dominance of Wildlife Management Areas is a place where wildlife are the focus for our management and the focus of that public access that we provide on those is for wildlife-based recreation. It’s really a place that is wild in nature, as well as provides a peaceful quiet place for recreation, as well as a place to connect with wildlife whether thats through a consumptive use like hunting or trapping or through passive engagement with bird watching or just wildlife viewing.”

Reporter Ike Bendavid: So people are allowed on Wildlife Management Areas?

Jane Lazorchak: All Wildlife Management Areas are open for public access.

For this land of more than 500 acres, the state says it protects and provides habitat for wildlife in the region.

"It's a wildlife corridor at the biggest scale for bears and moose but also for smaller animals like salamanders, frogs, birds-- all those sorts of animals use this area. These are regionally important areas when we decide to make an investment like this in a wildlife management area," Lazorchak said.

With the sale complete, the state plans to also put some work into the area.

“As we take ownership, we will enhance the parking on the property, we will provide kiosks, some maps-- let people know where it is and try to get people from all around to enjoy this property,” Lazorchak said.

The state is not releasing the name of its newest Wildlife Management Area until October when they plan to have an in-person celebration.

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