Maquam Wildlife Management Area, Franklin County, Vermont

About Maquam WMA

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department administers Maquam Wildlife Management Area, which is composed of two parcels. The Maquam Bay parcel (391 acres) is a low, marshy area along Lake Champlain sharing a boundary with Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. The Lampman parcel (482 acres), an upland tract south of Maquam Bay, includes abandoned farm fields and woods. Woodcock breed and rear their young on the Lampman parcel, and migrating woodcock feed there in spring and fall. The Lampman parcel is currently being managed to create and restore woodcock habitat.

Other than the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge and the Maquam WMA, most of the land in this part of northwestern Vermont is active farmland or mature forest. Together, the two publicly owned properties provide critical shrubby and young-forest habitats for resident mammals, and resident and migratory birds in the Champlain Valley.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Quaking aspen, gray birch, red maple, green ash, and several species of dogwood are taking over the old farm fields on the 482-acre Lampman parcel. Managers annually mow the grassy openings on this tract of formerly farmed land, keeping them functioning as singing grounds for woodcock. Workers have used a hydro-ax machine (on loan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) to cut down trees pushing in at the edges of the openings, creating dense brood-rearing and feeding cover at the fringes of these open areas.

A logging access road bisects the Lampman parcel. On both sides of the road, managers have laid out a series of 1- to 6-acre patch cuts, creating a mosaic of openings and young-forest habitat. (Wood removed during past cutting was chipped and transported to the Burlington Electric Company and burned in a biomass boiler to generate electricity.)

Photo of aspen shoots in woodcock area

New growth of aspen shoots following cutting on the Maquam WMA.

Twelve patch cuts totaling 25 acres were made in winter 2005; 11 more cuts on another 18 acres are scheduled for winter 2010. Additional cuts are planned for 2013 and 2018, mainly to remove mature and overmature aspen, which will cause the trees’ root systems to send up thousands of shoots, creating ideal feeding and brood-rearing habitat for woodcock. Biologists have noted that the cutting has caused the quaking aspen stands on the Lampman parcel to expand into areas where red maple and green ash used to predominate. (Aspen, particularly when young and growing densely, is a very attractive tree species for woodcock, as the birds like to feed and take shelter among the stems.)

In 2000, volunteers from the Ruffed Grouse Society used chainsaws to cut down hardwood trees that were casting shade on apple trees; today, the apple trees are growing more vigorously in the full sunlight, providing fruit for wildlife from deer to ruffed grouse, with woodcock probing for earthworms in the rich soil beneath the trees.

Funding and Partners

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (Fish and Wildlife Department), Ruffed Grouse Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Wildlife Management Institute.

How to Visit

To reach the Lampman parcel, take Vermont Route 36 (Lake Street) west out of Swanton in Franklin County. On the right, about a mile and a half out of town, is Lanier Road; opposite Lanier Road, on the left side of Route 36, is a steel gate. Visitors can park near the gate and walk south into the WMA on the unimproved logging road. For more information, contact Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department biologist John Gobeille, at 802-879-5696, or