This week, we’re going international! Well, kind of. One of our refuges has been designated a “Wetland of International Importance” under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands!
The designation is the first in Vermont, encompasses 7,665 acres, and includes the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s Maquam, Carmen’s Marsh and Rock River Wildlife Management Areas.
So what does it all mean? The Ramsar Convention is a 40 year old intergovernmental treaty, signed on by over 160 countries, to promote voluntary international cooperation for wetland and waterfowl conservation. The Convention’s mission centers on the wise use and conservation of wetlands around the globe focusing on local and national action and international cooperation.
If you’re still wondering why this is a big deal, keep reading. The site is the largest wetland complex in the Lake Champlain Basin, which is considered a resource of national significance. It contains the largest contiguous floodplain forest in Vermont and unique habitat types such as the Maquam Bog. It is important for many state rare and threatened or endangered species such as the eastern spiny softshell turtle, seven species of mussel and the lake sturgeon.
|Learn more about the Missisquoi Delta and Bay Wetlands|
The site supports over 200 species of birds and is a breeding area for numerous species of waterfowl, passerines, raptors and wading birds. It is also the only known breeding site for black terns in Vermont. As the site is located along the Atlantic Flyway, populations of waterfowl often reach 20,000 birds in the autumn! The Missisquoi Delta and Bay Wetlands are also essential for numerous fish species that use the site as feeding, spawning and nursery grounds. The site is one of the few remaining spawning grounds of the state endangered lake sturgeon.
And we’re joining some pretty good company. There are currently 35 other designated sites in the U.S. and over 2,000 around the world. The Missisquoi Delta and Bay Wetlands join the ranks of other important wetland areas such as the Everglades and San Francisco Bay with this designation. Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is the twentieth national wildlife refuge to be designated under the Ramsar Convention.
Congratulations to Vermont!