Vermont has more than 80 state wildlife management areas covering well over 100,000 acres. Management activities on these areas vary by habitat type, but perhaps none are more intensively managed than wetland wildlife management ares. Although wetland areas like the Dead Creek WMA in Addison look often like they do not need any improving, behind the scenes state biologists and volunteers work year-round to make them as attractive and beneficial to wildlife as possible.
The centerpiece of the nearly 5,000-acre Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area is Victory Bog. This shrubby, peat-moss wetland is fed by small streams that drain the mountains that ring the basin, which eventually flow into the Moose River. Victory Bog is home to several unusual plants, including the insect-eating pitcher plant. With its diversity of rare bird species and network of maintained trails, Victory Basin attracts bird watchers from across the region. But it also hosts a variety of other outdoor activities.
The Lake Champlain Basin is home to more than 70 species of fish, including the greatest assemblage of panfish in New England. Yellow perch, pumpkinseed, bluegill, smelt, bullhead and other panfish have long been popular targets for anglers both young and old, and in recent years crappie have been growing in popularity. Lake Champlain is home to two species of crappie, the common black crappie, or calico bass, and the white crappie, or silver bass. Black or white, crappies are fast becoming a lake favorite.
At one point walleye were the most popular game fish for recreational anglers in Vermont. A thriving commercial fish market existed for these toothy members of the perch family into the early 1960s, with as many as 65,000 harvested annually. During the late '70s and early '80s the population dwindled and concerns grew that overharvesting or environmental issues were responsible for the decline. In 1984, the Lake Champlain Walleye Association was formed with the goal of restoring, preserving and protecting the walleye fishery in the Lake Champlain Basin. The Association has worked closely with the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife to monitor walleye populations. In the tributaries of Lake Champlain, fish are caught, measured, sexed and some tagged for research purposes. The Department also collects eggs for fertilization. Over the last six years they have collected 64 million walleye eggs, which has resulted in over 40 million fry being stocked in Lake Champlain. The first Saturday in May marks the opening day of walleye season on tributaries flowing into Lake Champlain. Host Lawrence Pyne heads out with walleye enthusiast Cubby Smith on the Lamoille in search of "Old Marble Eyes."
Vermont is home to 9 species of bats. Biologists recently discovered that large numbers of Indiana bats spend the summer in the Champlain Valley.
Download the teaching materials created by Mary Anne Deer (and students), Putney Central School, Putney, VT.
A flight in a glider is unlike any other airplane experience. No engine. No noise. Just the sound of the wind and your own thoughts. Gliders fly on rising pockets of warm air called "thermals." These are the same thermals hawks use to soar to great heights. Gliders can climb thousands of feet and, under the right conditions, travel great distances. Vermont provides a number of ideal locations for soaring. One of them is Vermont's Mad River Valley, home to the Sugarbush Soaring Association. Located at the Warren Sugarbush Airport, the Association is made up of about 150 members who come from all over New England to fly glider planes. The Association gives glider rides to those interested in possibly learning the sport. It also sponsors a summer youth camp for two weeks, giving kids between the ages of 13 and 17 a chance to learn to soar. The learning curve for young people is fairly steep. Adults can expect to spend up to forty or more hours to learn to soar, depending on their abilities. But the first step is taking a glider ride. Host Marianne Eaton visits the Warren Sugarbush Airport and joins Ron Webster, president of the Sugarbush Soaring Association, for a glider ride high above Vermont's Mad River Valley.
Trying any outdoor sport can be intimidating. But for women it can be even tougher because of a lack of instruction in traditional outdoor sports. But there are a growing number of resources available for women who want to learn how to tie a fly, shoot a bow or just survive in the wild. One of these resources is Doe Camp — an annual summer weekend of outdoor sports instruction put on by Vermont Outdoor Woman. Here women can learn about sports that are usually perceived to be male-oriented, such as hunting, fishing and shooting, in a relaxed, non-threatening environment. Host Marianne Eaton attends Doe Camp 2003 to learn a little about shooting, survival, fly-fishing and other outdoor sports.
About a decade ago, a group of hunters got together to do volunteer work improving the habitats of Vermont's wild creatures. From that small beginning, the Working for Wildlife program has spread to an effort involving volunteers at dozens of sites around the state on the last weekend in April. The focus is always on making the wild land work better for the wildlife that live there. We travel to the White River to look at efforts to reform a riparian buffer and to the woods of central Vermont to watch apple trees being released.