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West Rutland Marsh - 55 more acres preserved!

We have exciting news about our preservation efforts at West Rutland Marsh. As many of you know, Rutland County Audubon has undertaken a long-term Yellow Warblereffort to preserve the marsh through bird monitoring and offering environmental education opportunities. Much of the wetland is owned privately, which potentially makes the ideal bird and wildlife habitat vulnerable. While there has been no immediate threat of development, there is also no guarantee.

Thanks to a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) that has changed. Spearheaded by RCAS, the town of West Rutland succesfully applied for the grant and now the town owns another 55-acre parcel which will be protected. This particular parcel is important because of its habitat and location. The property consists of a broad marshy stretch of the Castleton River's headwaters and a grove of old growth white pine. It is located between Whipple Hollow Road and Marble Street and is bordered on the north and west by lands already preserved. This key piece provides a continguous parcel of protect habitat.

The grant process, begun in July 2008, has been a long one. VHCB supported us throughout the process despite budget cuts in a difficult economic time and our attorney helped steer us through some legal glitches. One of the strong points of the application was the partnership between a municipality and a non-profit organization.

The news comes with responsiblity. RCAS has accepted the challenge of helping plan and implement conservation goals to this parcel and the additional 200 plus acres owned by the town. We will need plenty of volunteer help and probably financial support. We must develop an action plan to have everyone understand what needs to be done and in what order. If you are interested in helping, let us know by contacting me at vtbirdhouses@yahoo.com or at 775-2415.

It is a thrill to be making a positive effort in preserving bird habitat. We believe that places like this must be preserved. In fact it may be more important now than ever to keep places like West Rutland Marsh unspoiled by development. It is during the tough times that we most enjoy the natural world.



eight years of marsh monitoring completed

On Thursday, July 16, 2009, a group of Rutland County Audubon members and friends completed eight years of monthly marsh monitoring of the birds associated with the West Rutland marsh. The first of these walks around the 3.7 mile perimeter of the marsh took place on August 16, 2001, with 15 observers during which 45 species were tallied. The number of species tallied is now 137 while observer participation has reached 1127. The lowest number of species ever recorded on a monthly walk was 28 on April 16, 2005, and the highest number was 70 on May 18, 2006.

Bird monitoring at the marsh has several objectives. One objective is to raise the awareness and appreciation of the general public to this Important Bird Area as an exceptional natural resource. A corollary to the awareness and appreciation is the hope that the future of the marsh and its sustainability will be ensured. A second objective for monthly bird monitoring is that it offers an educational opportunity for birders of all ages and experience to sharpen their identification skills, both visual and auditory, in a collegial and welcoming environment. Finally, with all sightings entered on eBird, the cumulative record will provide researchers an opportunity to advance bird conservation here in Vermont and beyond.

Marsh walks are scheduled monthly generally on a Thursday or a Saturday. Participants meet at the West Rutland Price Chopper parking area at 7:00 a.m. except during winter months when the gathering time is 8:00 a.m. All walks are free and open to the public. Come join us!

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