LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area
LaPlatte River Marsh LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area © E. Collins

Places We Protect

LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area

Vermont

This wetland complex is a riverside oasis for migratory birds in Shellbourne.

Every acre counts in this rivershore natural area in Shelburne—an oasis of nature in an otherwise fragmented landscape. An important habitat for migratory waterfowl, this marsh complex is located at the end of the LaPlatte, a river that extends 16 miles from Lake Iroquois to Lake Champlain and drains 34,137 acres of Champlain lowlands. Nearly 150 acres in size, the marshes and floodplain forests are regularly flooded when the lake level rises and are inhabited by plant species that can endure these wet conditions. This ecosystem is essential to helping filter and clean the water that empties into our Lake and is part of our nature based solutions for water quality progress in Lake Champlain.

This preserve is a haven to sixty species of birds; twenty mammals including otter, mink and muskrat, and fifty species of reptiles, amphibians and fish. On the trail you can expect to be surprised by ducks, kingfishers, or an occasional osprey and paddlers often spy blue herons.

The Conservancy has been working with volunteers to control invasive species such as common buckthorn, which threaten the preserve's floodplain forests.

The LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area can be enjoyed by foot or by canoe. The Vermont Chapter completed an extensive invasive plant control project at our LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area last fall.  Access to the trail in the northwest portions of the property, near the trail and town are now open for visitation.

What to See: Plants

The moist soil of the bottomland is ideal for floodplain forests, and for tree species like black willow, green ash, and silver maple that thrive on the annual spring floods along the river. On the moist clay soils, above the level of annual flooding, is an example of the rare valley clayplain forest.

Broad-fruited burreed and common cattail, common arrowhead and river bulrush thrive in the wetlands. Stands of white pine, eastern hemlock, and northern hardwoods are found in the uplands.

What to See: Animals

Beavers have changed this landscape over time. They've removed trees from the forest canopy so that sunlight now penetrates to the forest floor, promoting the growth of tree species like gray birch and white pine.

LaPlatte is a good place to see great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and several kinds of ducks. Birds like the woodcock, gray catbird, song sparrow, ruffed grouse and common yellowthroat frequent the LaPlatte River Marsh.