Established June 24, 1762
Town Farm Bay Wetlands
Town Farm Bay and the wetland complexes at the mouths of Thorp and Kimball brooks constitute one of Charlotte’s premier ecological assets. The Charlotte Conservation Commission has been focusing its wetland and water-quality efforts on this area by exploring the feasibility and benefits of petitioning the state to change the designation of the wetlands from Class II to Class I. This area warrants the protection efforts of the town for these reasons: a conservation commission survey at the 2011 Town Party revealed that Lake Champlain is the most important natural resource in the town for a majority of respondents. Wetlands were the second most commonly cited “most important” natural resource.

According to the Vermont Wetland Rules (pdf), a Class I wetland is one that, “is exceptional or irreplaceable in its contribution to Vermont’s natural heritage and, therefore, merits the highest level of protection.” There are currently only three wetlands with the Class I designation in the state, though there are others that meet the criteria, most notably the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge

Class I designation provides a larger protected buffer and additional regulatory protections and is meant only for wetlands that are, “exceptional or irreplaceable in [their] contribution to Vermont’s natural heritage.” There are currently only three wetlands in the state designated as Class I. Having a Class I wetland in our town would be a source of pride and a way to show the rest of the state Charlotte’s spectacular natural resources and the commitment of its citizens to responsibly steward those resources.

The area has been called, “one of the finest wetland complexes on the shores of Lake Champlain,” and “a rare, intact cross-section of landscape from open water to bottom-land forest.” The size and health of the wetlands provide valuable habitat for native Vermont wildlife, including at least 41 species of breeding birds, 11 species of fish and ten species of reptiles and amphibians. The ecosystem also harbors a mosaic of natural communities of state-wide significance, including buttonbush swamp, shallow emergent marsh, deep bulrush marsh and lakeside floodplain forest.

This natural area is a gem for our town, but the viability of the ecosystem is threatened. Several species of aquatic invasive plants have been identified in the bay, including European frogbit, curly-leaved pond weed, yellow-flag iris and Eurasian milfoil. Invasives change the ecological dynamics of the habitat and can result in modification of the food web and loss of biodiversity. In addition to invasive species, nitrogen and phosphorous inputs to Town Farm Bay are high and these excessive nutrients may be the cause of thick mats of impenetrable vegetation that impaired recreation (boating access) in 2007. The probable causes of these nutrient inputs are bank erosion and farm runoff, particularly during high-flow periods.

The Conservation Commission is currently soliciting the input of landowners along the Thorp and Kimball brooks and those who own land where the brooks meet the bay and the lake.
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