N 44 10.754 W 073 18.457
Otter Creek is the nicest, most nature filled, fresh water river we know. In the past hour we saw 4 eagles, numerous blue herons, an owl, turtles, a sturgeon, gulls, hawks, a turkey vulture, and another one of those chocolate brown weasel-like animals that might be an otter.
The land on either side of the creek is mostly marshland. It is separated from the creek by banks, or dikes, or levies. Where we get a clear glimpse of the marshes, they appear to be packed with some type of sawgrass. The sawgrass grows so tightly packed that it seems that even a mosquito could not fit between the adjacent stalks.
In several places, the marshland adjacent to the creek seems to lie below the elevation of the creek yet it is dry. At least it is dry at the moment. I'm sure that the spring flood causes the creek to spill over and flood that low lying land.
The overall appearance of Otter Creek is similar to the salt marshes one finds in northern Florida and southern Georgia. Miles wide areas of marsh are bisected by a few narrow channels where the water is deep enough to discourage grass and to allow navigation by boats. I know that the salt marshes are well known to be the incubators of marine life in those areas. Everything from the shrimp to the birds give birth and raise their young in the shelters of the marsh. It may be very much the same
story for Otter creek.
I've been struggling to determine if the river banks are natural or man-made. Clearly some stretches are man made and were made to support a narrow road that leads to a few houses near the mouth of the creek. Still, most of the river bank appears to be natural. However, if it was all natural I'm sure that there would be gaps that would allow the creek water to flood the low-lying adjacent land. Therefore, I conclude that man made supplements, patching and repair must maintain the banks water
tight. That will drastically alter the ecology of those low lands. Instead of nearly perpetual submersion, they will no be flooded only in spring.
The creek is eminently navigable up to the waterfalls in Vergennes. Water depth is 12-15 feet deep almost all the way to the banks.
A few, very few, houses and boat ramps, and docks line the creek on either side. My guess is only one man-made structure per 1/3 mile. That's very sparse population by modern standards. I'm sure that contributes to the continued presence of wild life. I wonder what fraction of the wildlife in this region is dependent on the marshes near Otter creek.
Elsewhere in Vermont and upstate New York marshes are very rare. The closest similar landscape that Libby and I are aware of is Montezuma Swamp in New York that lies West of Syracuse and East of Rochester.
As I write this, we are sitting out a thunderstorm and hail. I has been several years since I saw real hail. There are three fishermen in a 14 foot motor boat right in the middle of it. I give them credit, they just continued to fish and ignored the storm. The only nearby shelter for them would have been under a tree, but that is a very bad place to take shelter in a thunderstorm.