Wetlands are transitional areas between dry land and water bodies where the soil is saturated or covered with water all or part of the year. The Basin contains a diversity of wetlands, from open water habitats to rich forested swamps that range in size from a few hundred square feet to thousands of acres. Lake Champlain’s wetlands are among the most productive and significant freshwater habitats in the northeast.

The Lake Champlain Basin contains more than 300,000 acres of wetlands as shown on the Wetlands in the Basin Map [1,843 KB]. As large as this figure sounds, approximately 35 to 50 percent of the wetlands have been lost in the Basin due to development pressures and landscape modification. These losses are often incremental in nature, as wet areas are filled in one acre at a time.

Wetlands provide a variety of important functions and values, and contribute to the overall biological diversity in the Basin. Wetlands improve water quality by filtering sediments, pollutants and nutrients; provide habitat and nourishment for fish and wildlife including rare, threatened, and endangered species; protect groundwater and drinking water supplies; and include important natural communities. They also stabilize shorelines and prevent erosion; provide recreational opportunities; control flooding, contribute to the aesthetic quality of the landscape; and provide educational opportunities.

Located along the Atlantic flyway, a migratory corridor for waterfowl and other birds, Lake Champlain wetlands provide critical resting and feeding sites during the fall and spring migration. Between 20,000 and 40,000 ducks and geese have been counted on flights during early October. Over 30 species of waterfowl use Lake Champlain annually, including black ducks, wood ducks, mallards, blue winged teal, common goldeneye, hooded mergansers, and Canada geese.