United States designates 36th Ramsar Site

United States designates 36th Ramsar Site

23 April 2014
United States of America

The government of the USA has designated the Missisquoi Delta and Bay Wetlands (3,102 ha, 44°57’19”N, 73°10’9”W) in Vermont as its 36th Ramsar Site. As summarized by Ramsar’s Sara Casallas, 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 the State and unique habitat types such as the Maquam Bog. It is important for rare and threatened or endangered species such as the eastern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera), seven species of mussel and the lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens). 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. The main threats are associated with activities in the greater watershed area such as the construction of dams, mercury contamination from atmospheric deposition and pollution from runoff and discharge from wastewater treatment plants. This has led to increased nutrient loading, sedimentation, algal blooms and loss of spawning sites for the lake sturgeon.