The Vermont Vernal Pool Mapping Project (VPMP) is an ongoing effort to map the location and distribution of vernal pools in Vermont. These small, ephemeral wetlands support a rich assemblage of invertebrates and breeding amphibians, many of which are considered Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Vermont Wildlife Action Plan. However, most vernal pools do not appear on National Wetland Inventory maps, and until now, their location and distribution across Vermont was largely unknown. VPMP, which was largely funded through the State Wildlife Grants Program of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (VFWD), first mapped the location of nearly 5,000 “potential” vernal pools statewide using existing aerial photographs. Then, with the help of over 100 trained volunteers, 636 of those potential pools were field-visited; 344 of which were confirmed to be vernal pools. In addition, 221 unmapped pools were also confirmed during fieldwork.
Although field-verification of “potential” pools will continue over the next few years, results from the project’s first four years were recently compiled in a final report to the VFWD. Among other things the report revealed that the distribution of potential pools by biophysical region showed a distinct pattern, with the majority of pools (55%) occurring in just three regions; the Northern Vermont Piedmont, Southern Vermont Piedmont, and Southern Green Mountains (see map). Not surprisingly, just 5% of mapped potential pools were located in the Northeast Highlands, underscoring the limitations of aerial photo mapping in landscapes dominated by conifer cover.
Among field-verified pools, the most commonly detected species were Wood Frog and Spotted Salamander, which were found breeding in 78% and 73% of confirmed pools, respectively. Jefferson Salamander was found in 10% of confirmed pools, Blue-spotted Salamander in 3% of pools, and Fairy Shrimp in 5% of pools.
For more information about VPMP or to download the final report, visit www.vtecostudies.org/VPMP.
Is there anything in regards to reporting the destruction of a vernal pool? I’m sad to say my neighbors had a beautiful one that they did not understand (not Vermonters) even though I told them what it was and they thought they could turn it into a swimming pond and it would fill with water. The next week after the excavators arrived the pool is destroyed and the water is murky and mostly dried up. 😓
Vernal pools that support breeding amphibians are Class II wetlands and therefore regulated by the VT DEC’s Wetlands Program. Any activities conducted within a Class II wetland or its buffer zone would first require a permit from DEC. If not, the activity is in violation of Vermont’s Wetland Rules. Visit the link below for more information about DEC’s permit process and wetland rules.