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Harmonies - Winter 2015

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We're Back!

Welcome back to the Harmonies Newsletter! We're excited to share updates on Vermont's wildlife and wild places, and the people that work to protect them.
This spring the Agency of Natural Resources will continue working with Vermont's legislators to update Vermont's threatened and endangered species law. The current law protects species, but not their habitats. For some species, critical habitat is essential to their survival. The agency's goal is to update the law so that the caves where bats hibernate in winter will not be destroyed when they're away in the summer and an endangered bulrush has space to move around within a wetland complex.
Staff members have been working with conservation nonprofits, foresters, businesses, utilities, and others to draft proposed language for the bill. In this newsletter, we feature stories about the species that will benefit from critical habitat protections. Thanks for your support of Vermont's wildlife!
Tom Rogers

Great ways to give

For two years in a row, Kaden, a nine-year-old boy from Newport, has asked for money for his birthday in lieu of presents. But rather than keep it for himself, Kaden has donated his birthday money to the Nongame Wildlife Fund. He said he does this "so the animals can have a happy life." This generous young man also says that he wants to be a warden or a biologist when he grows up.
Ben and Anne Linehan, owners of the new Brocklebank Craft Brewing in Tunbridge, are donating 10 percent of sales of Timber Rattler IPA to the Nongame Wildlife Fund. The funds will go towards the department's timber rattlesnake conservation efforts. Raise a glass of this Vermont craft beer and help save wildlife! Learn More

If you're feeling inspired by these wildlife superstars, make a donation today!

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Tiny turtles get a helping hand

The warm fall weather brought a huge crowd out for the 2015 Turtle Nesting Beach Cleanup Day. Volunteers young and old helped remove weeds and debris to prepare the beaches for the spring turtle nesting season.
Spiny softshell turtles are a threatened species in Vermont. They require undisturbed sand or pebble beaches for nesting, which are becoming increasingly rare as Lake Champlain's shoreline is developed. Thanks to everyone who took time out for turtles and we hope you'll come next year and bring a friend!

Habitat is key at Wildlife Mgmt Area

Floodplain forests provide great habitat for wildlife, but they do much more than that. They can inhibit erosion, protect communities against floods, improve drinking water, and prevent toxic summer algal blooms in lakes and ponds.
Wildlife and forestry staff recently planted more than 5,000 trees at three Northeast Kingdom wildlife management areas, with assistance from The Nature Conservancy, the Essex County Conservation District, and the Northwoods Stewardship Center. The trees were planted in order to re-establish floodplain forests along rivers in former farmland. The plantings included elm trees that were bred by The Nature Conservancy to be resistant to Dutch elm disease, in addition to silver maples.
When these newly planted forests mature, they will provide habitat for wood ducks, nesting trees for bald eagles, and room for the state threatened green dragon plant, which grows under the forest canopy. Learn More

Tracking a dinosaur

On the bottom of Lake Champlain and its tributaries lurk a handful of ancient Triassic-era fish known as lake sturgeon. Armored with boney body plates and whisker-like barbels next to their pointy snouts, some sturgeon have been known to live 150 years and weigh 300 pounds.
Lake sturgeon is an endangered species in Vermont. Fisheries biologists know that access to proper spawning habitat is critical to their survival, but they weren't sure exactly where sturgeon move and congregate. To find out, they recently captured and tagged 10 sturgeon with transmitters to track their movements.
Identifying locations that are important to sturgeon allows department staff to protect these critical habitats from development and disturbance. Learn More