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Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge


(Narrator)
IT IS A LAND OF TRANSITIONS… YET ONE DEFINED AS MUCH
BY BORDERS AND BOUNDARIES, AS BY CONTINUITY. HERE, THE GREAT GREEN AND
TACONIC MOUNTAINS FLATTEN AND SEPARATE INTO
THE VAST CHAMPLAIN VALLEY, SITE OF ANCIENT SEAS AND STRANGE
CREATURES OF PREHISTORY. THE STORY IS TOLD IN THE ROCKS. IMMEDIATELY TO THE NORTH…
CANADA… AS THE LAND BROADENS
STILL FARTHER INTO THE VALLEY OF
THE SAINT LAWRENCE. TO THE SOUTH, THE LUSH,
ENVELOPING FOLDS OF VERMONT’S EMERALD LANDSCAPE. IT IS A CROSSROADS OF CULTURES
AND HISTORICAL PAGEANTRY, SHAPED FIRST BY THE
NATIVE PEOPLES AND TOUCHED, IN TURN, BY FRENCH,
BRITISH, CANADIAN, AND AMERICAN MIGRANTS, EACH OF WHOM LEFT THEIR MARK. IT HAS BEEN THE SITE OF
MIGHTY DEEDS AND EXCEPTIONAL BRAVERY… GREAT CRUELTY AND AVARICE… THE DOMAIN OF PRIESTS
AND SMUGGLERS, PROPHETS AND PROFITEERS. IN SHORT, THERE HAS BEEN
MUCH HISTORY IN THIS PLACE. IN THE MIDST OF ALL, A SLOW,
LANGUID STREAM THE ABENAKI PEOPLE CALL
MISSISQUOI THE “LAND OF THE FLINT.” TUCKED INTO THE GREEN MOUNTAIN
STATE’S FAR NORTHWESTERN CORNER, IT IS A CROSSROADS OF LIFE
FOR THE ANIMALS AND PLANTS THAT MAKE THIS PLACE THEIR HOME. IT IS VERMONT’S…
HAVEN FOR WILDLIFE. MISSISQUOI NATIONAL
WILDLIFE REFUGE PROTRUDES INTO LAKE CHAMPLAIN AND ITS SMALLER OFFSHOOT
TO THE NORTH, MISSISQUOI BAY. ITS MEANDERING CREEKS
AND SLOUGHS… MARSHES AND BOGS…
ISLANDS AND CHANNELS… FORM A COMPLEX AND PRODUCTIVE WATER-SATURATED NETWORK
OF LANDS. WATER, GEOLOGY, AND TOPOGRAPHY HAVE SHAPED MISSISQUOI AND THE
LIFE THAT FINDS HAVEN HERE. AS GREAT CONTINENTAL ICE SHEETS
RETREATED NORTHWARD, HIGH-ELEVATION LAKES EBBED
AND FLOWED IN THEIR WAKE. WHAT REMAINED WERE RIVER DELTAS
AND SAND-GRAVEL MARGINS THAT PRODUCED A DISTINCTIVE
MOSAIC OF PLANTS FOUND NOWHERE ELSE IN VERMONT, AND IN FEW OTHER PLACES IN
NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND. THE MISSISQUOI RIVER NOW WINDS
THROUGH BEDS OF WILD RICE AND LUSH STANDS OF ARROWHEAD,
BULRUSH, AND WILD CELERY. SUCH MORSELS PROVIDE A TEMPTING
FORAGE BUFFET FOR DUCKS, GEESE,
AND OTHER MARSH DWELLERS. IN 1943,
WHILE IN THE MIDST OF WAR, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND
THE PEOPLE OF VERMONT RECOGNIZED THE UNIQUENESS
OF THIS REGION BY CREATING MISSISQUOI
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE. MANAGED FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, THIS SIXTY-SIX-HUNDRED-ACRE
REFUGE EXISTS AS A HAVEN FOR LAKE CHAMPLAIN’S
MIGRATORY BIRDS, AS THEY MOVE UP AND DOWN
NORTH AMERICA’S ATLANTIC FLYWAY. AND WHAT A STORY THERE
IS TO TELL! HERE, AT MISSISQUOI, YOU’LL FIND
ONE OF VERMONT’S LARGEST GREAT BLUE HERON
ROOKERIES, LOCATED ON SHAD ISLAND, WHERE AS MANY AS
SIX HUNDRED NESTS ERUPT EVERY SUMMER WITH THE
CACOPHONY OF SQUAWKS AND SCREECHES THAT
SIGNIFY… NEW LIFE. MOST OF VERMONT’S BLACK TERNS
NEST ON THE REFUGE, AS DO A LARGE SHARE OF
OUR STATE’S OSPREYS, WHICH ARE ENCOURAGED TO
COME HERE BY OSPREY NESTING PLATFORMS. EVERY FALL, TWENTY THOUSAND
RING-NECKED DUCKS, GOLDENEYES, MALLARDS, AND BLACK DUCKS
CONVERGE AT MISSISQUOI FOR FEEDING AND RESTING WHILE ON
THEIR SOUTHWARD MIGRATION. OTHER BIRDS YOU’LL SPOT IN
SEASONAL ABUNDANCE
INCLUDE BITTERN, BOBOLINKS, KILLDEER, RED-TAILED HAWKS,
AND A PROFUSION OF NOISY AND DEMONSTRATIVE WOODPECKERS
AND SONGBIRDS. IN THEIR RARITY, YOU MIGHT EVEN
SPY A PEREGRINE FALCON, SEDGE WREN,
OR BALD EAGLE. BUT MISSISQUOI ISN’T JUST
FOR THE BIRDS! OUR LANDS ARE MANAGED TO
PRESERVE THE NATURAL DIVERSITY OF ANIMALS AND PLANTS THAT
INTERSECT AT THIS BIOLOGICAL
CROSSROADS. MISSISQUOI’S NINE-HUNDRED-ACRE
WOODLAND MAQUAM BOG SHELTERS THE GREEN MOUNTAIN
STATE’S ONLY COMMUNITY OF PITCH PINE, RHODORA, AND CHAINFERN,
A STATE THREATENED SPECIES. IN SUMMER, YOU’LL SPOT
WHITE-TAILED DEER AND A VARIETY OF RESIDENT
SONGBIRDS IN THIS SWAMPY
LOWLAND; SPINY SOFTSHELL TURTLES BASK
IN THE SUN’S RAYS ON THE NEARBY MISSISQUOI RIVER. HERE, WE ACTIVELY MANAGE
THE LAND TO PERPETUATE THIS DIVERSITY. AT MISSISQUOI, AS AT ALL
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES, THE HAND OF MAN
IS AN ACTIVE ONE. WATER LEVELS ARE MANIPULATED
TO ENCOURAGE WILD RICE AND BUTTONBUSH FOR OUR
BLACK DUCKS AND TEAL. NESTING STRUCTURES HAVE BEEN
EMPLOYED THROUGHOUT THE DELTA TO BOOST NUMBERS OF
COMMON GOLDENEYES AND
BLACK DUCKS, TOO. BECAUSE HAYING, MOWING,
AND PRESCRIBED BURNS DISCOURAGE OPEN FIELDS FROM
RETURNING TO FOREST, WE USE THESE TECHNIQUES TO
PRODUCE COVER FOR GRASSLAND BIRDS LIKE
BOBOLINKS, SAVANNAH SPARROWS, AND EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, AND TO YIELD THE SMALL MAMMALS
THAT HAWKS AND AMERICAN KESTRELS REQUIRE
AS PREY. IT’S ALL PART OF A
CAREFULLY-CRAFTED PLAN TO MAINTAIN BALANCE AMONG THE
MANY SPECIES YOU’LL ENCOUNTER AT MISSISQUOI. WE CONTROL NON-NATIVE–
OR, EXOTIC PLANTS LIKE COMMON REED GRASS
AND PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE. IF LEFT UNCHECKED, THEY WOULD QUICKLY OVERWHELM
NATIVE PLANTS. WE ALLOW LIMITED TRAPPING OF
RACCOON, MUSKRAT AND BEAVER TO CONTROL PREDATION ON
GROUND-NESTING BIRDS AND TO PROTECT OUR
IMPOUNDMENT DIKES AND WATER CONTROL STRUCTURES. YOUR FIRST STOP FOR A SUCCESSFUL
VISIT TO MISSISQUOI NATIONAL
WILDLIFE REFUGE SHOULD BE OUR NEW
SEVENTY-TWO-HUNDRED-SQUARE-FOOT
VISITOR CENTER AND HEADQUARTERS, NEAR ROUTE SEVENTY-EIGHT’S
INTERSECTION WITH TABOR ROAD
IN WEST SWANTON. HERE, YOU’LL DISCOVER EXHIBITS AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT
THE REFUGE, ITS WILDLIFE,
AND ITS NATURAL HISTORY. YOU’LL MEET OUR HELPFUL AND
KNOWLEDGEABLE STAFF AND OUR PARTNERS, THE “FRIENDS OF MISSISQUOI
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.” OUR CENTER IS OPEN
EVERY WEEKDAY, WHILE THE REFUGE ITSELF IS YOURS
SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, DAWN TO DUSK. NATURE WALKS, BOAT TOURS, PUBLIC LECTURES,
AND SPECIAL EVENTS, LIKE OUR POPULAR “OWL PROWLS”
AND “WOODCOCK WALKS,” OCCUR THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. WHILE YOU’RE AT OUR
VISITOR CENTER, WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN IN
SUPPORTING THE MISSION OF THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE
REFUGE SYSTEM BY BUYING A “DUCK STAMP.” IT’S THE “DUCK STAMP”
THAT CREATED MISSISQUOI REFUGE, WITH THE FUNDS OF HUNTERS AND
OTHER CONSERVATIONISTS… AND FROM MILLIONS OF PEOPLE
JUST LIKE YOU. OUR STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS FROM
OUR FRIENDS GROUP WILL BE GLAD TO TELL YOU MORE
ABOUT CONSERVATION’S REMARKABLE
LITTLE STAMP. WE RECOMMEND YOU BEGIN YOUR
MISSISQUOI EXPERIENCE ON FOOT, EITHER EARLY OR LATE IN THE DAY
WHEN ANIMALS ARE MOST ACTIVE, STARTING ON OUR NEARBY
ONE-MILE LOOP TRAIL. IT LEAVES OUR VISITOR’S CENTER
AND WINDS THROUGH GRASS
AND SHRUB LANDS, WETLAND FORESTS,
A BUTTONBUSH SWAMP, AND MIXED HARDWOODS OF OAK,
BIRCH, AND SUGAR MAPLE. OUR BLACK CREEK AND MAQUAM CREEK
INTERPRETIVE TRAILS WILL TAKE YOU THROUGH
ONE-AND-A-HALF MILES OF MAPLE, GRAY BIRCH, SWAMP WHITE OAK,
AND ASH LOWLANDS. IF YOU’RE QUIET AND OBSERVANT,
YOU’RE SURE TO SPOT RED FOX, WHITE-TAILED DEER,
AND COLORFUL PATCHES OF NATIVE WILDFLOWERS ALONG
THESE TRAILS. DEEPER INTO THE REFUGE,
THE ONE-MILE MAC’S BEND ROAD, AND OUR STEPHEN J. YOUNG MARSH AND OLD RAILROAD PASSAGE TRAIL, PROVIDE GOOD “WILDLIFE WINDOWS”
FOR BIRDS AND MARSH MAMMALS. IF YOU STAY ON THE TRAILS
AND MOVE QUIETLY, YOU’LL BE TREATED TO
SO MUCH MORE. AND WHEN AREAS ARE CLOSED, KNOW THAT WE’RE OFTEN PROTECTING
SENSITIVE HABITATS AND BIRD NESTING AREAS. CANOEISTS AND KAYAKERS
CAN LAUNCH ON THE MISSISQUOI RIVER
AT LOUIE’S LANDING, OFF OF VERMONT ROUTE
SEVENTY-EIGHT, FOR AN ALL-DAY PADDLE AROUND
GANDER AND GOOSE BAYS, AND BACK ALONG DEAD CREEK
TO YOUR PUT-IN POINT. THIS CIRCUIT GIVES A UNIQUE,
WATERSIDE VIEW OF SHAD ISLAND AND ITS GREAT BLUE HERON COLONY. REMEMBER THAT OPEN WATER DEMANDS
EVEN GREATER ADHERENCE TO
SAFE BOATING THAN OUR SHELTERED CREEKS
AND RIVERS. ANGLERS AND HUNTERS ARE WELCOME
AT MISSISQUOI, TOO! WALLEYE, NORTHERN PIKE,
LARGEMOUTH BASS, AND A DOZEN OTHER GAMEFISH
SPECIES ABOUND IN THE
REFUGE’S WATERS. BANK FISHING’S BEST ALONG
CHARCOAL CREEK WHERE IT PASSES BENEATH
ROUTE SEVENTY-EIGHT, AND ON THE MISSISQUOI RIVER
FROM THE REFUGE BOUNDARY
TO MAC’S BEND. EVERY JUNE, OUR REFUGE
FISHING DERBY INTRODUCES YOUNGSTERS TO
THE FUN OF FISHING, TOO. EACH YEAR WE OPEN PARTS OF THE
REFUGE TO MANAGED HUNTING FOR DUCKS AND GEESE, DEER,
AND SMALL GAME. MISSISQUOI IS FAMED FOR BEING ONE OF THE REGION’S BEST
WATERFOWLING SPOTS. WE TEAM WITH THE VERMONT
FISH AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT AND DUCKS UNLIMITED
EVERY AUGUST FOR OUR JUNIOR WATERFOWL HUNTER
TRAINING PROGRAM, WHERE YOUNG OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS
ARE TAUGHT SAFE AND ETHICAL HUNTING. WHETHER YOU ENJOY MISSISQUOI
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE BY LAND OR WATER, IN WINTER’S CHILL OR AT SUMMER’S ABUNDANCE,
KNOW THAT THIS LAND– THIS “LAND OF THE FLINT”
OF THE ABENAKI– REMAINS A PLACE OF TRANSITION, FROM MOUNTAINS TO THE
GREAT LAKE CHAMPLAIN. TOUCHED BY MANY CULTURES,
OURS TO SUSTAIN FOR POSTERITY, THIS HAVEN FOR WILDLIFE REMAINS
A SPECIAL PLACE FOR ALL WHO CONTINUE
TO PASS THIS WAY. WELCOME…
TO MISSISQUOI
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.

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