The name doesn’t fit. Dead Creek’s miles of shallow waterway, wetlands and woods are teeming with life: swimming, flying, crawling life. And with the recent opening of its new visitor center, it’s likely to host many more mammals of the human species.
And that’s a good thing, because Dead Creek on Route 17 in Addison is a premier wildlife hotspot. And with walking paths, boat access, and nature viewing areas, it can be enjoyed from both land and water.
That’s for us humans. For two hundred and fifty species of birds, for mammals such as foxes and otters, and for numerous reptiles and amphibians, Dead Creek offers feeding, nesting, and living habitat, and for those on long migrations, a place to rest and refuel.
Because Dead Creek is very popular, it’s the first among Vermont’s eighty Wildlife Management Areas to get a visitor center with interactive displays on the creek’s history and animals, as well as the conservation efforts of Vermont Fish and Wildlife, which established Dead Creek in 1950 on state-owned land. They constructed dams and other structures to prevent the creek from drying out, as it used to. Eventually, additional land acquisition increased Dead Creek to nearly three thousand acres.
Cornfields surround the meandering waterways, and I wondered whether the farmers suffer losses from the wildlife. But Dead Creek Manager Amy Alfiery explained that farmers are compensated for losses, and a controlled hunting program keeps the Canada geese population at a level acceptable to the surrounding farms.
Snow geese migration reaches its height in October, when lucky visitors might catch sight of this much-anticipated event. I myself have tried several times to see the birds and always missed them. But I’m determined to keep trying until I too experience the reported pulse of hundreds of wings and the awesome sight of seemingly snowy fields.
So I’ll visit Dead Creek repeatedly, and whether or not I see the snow geese, I know I’ll never be disappointed. Because the beauty of Dead Creek isn’t just in the birds we may or may not see - but in the home and respite it offers so many creatures.