I have the same understanding as Carl (see below in this thread), that
the shoreline the mouth of the Winooski and the outer, western sandbar
are off limits to the public. There is no access to that area along
the bike path, as evidenced by the fence the entire distance from near
the fishing access to the bridge. There is a gate in that fence that is
padlocked. I have on rare occasions taken a UVM course field trip with
a very small number of students to that area during winter months with
the permission of the Winooski Valley Park District.
Only when the lake level is as low as it is now, is there "walkable"
access to the outer beaches at the north end, as described by David. In
keeping with the protected species management described by Carl, I would
encourage all persons to stay clear of the western sandbar (which faces
the center of the lake with the Adirondacks beyond).
The Beach Pea population, guarded by the wooden fencing at the north end
of Delta Park (noted by David), has shrunk markedly in recent years, and
any residual plants are likely hard to find.
Here is a brief history of the remarkably dynamic Winooski River mouth
The mouth of the Winooski River with its above-water-level delta
described in the various posts has changed mightily since the mid-1700's
when there was no delta, and only a broad cove indenting the shoreline
where the Winooski River entered the lake (as a French map from 1764
With the massive land clearings in the extensive Winooski River
watershed into and beyond the mid-1800's, huge sediment loads created a
delta protruding out into the lake even farther than where it now exists
west of the bike path. With the water level so low as it is now, from
the bike path bridge these past few weeks you can see logs snagged on
delta remnants. There is even emerging a former bar creating an
The 1927 flood resulted in a series of flood control dams being built on
the Winooski River. Those dams, plus reforestation, effectively halted
the sediment source for the delta and it rapidly began to decay from
wave and storm action.
The decay continues unabated, removing sands, peats, vegetation, and
many former beaches, bars, and sand islands. In the early 1970s huge,
stately cottonwoods lined the north bank of the river mouth west of the
bridge. Those trees eroded away, the beaches went too, as did much of a
gravel road that proceeded west out to a prominence called "Edsel Point"
where someone drove an automobile of said name into the lake for fun or
The shape of the western sandbar changes every year and decade, and its
size continues to diminish. With no replacement sediments it is on a
trajectory for extinction in decades (not centuries), along with the
marsh and shallows behind it. That dynamic storm-by-storm, year-by-year
alteration maintains the habitat for the Tiger Beetle and the visiting
shorebirds. This location has more change in process than any other
place on Lake Champlain that I know of.
The story of the delta is contained in "Patterns and Causes of 19th and
20th Centrury Shoreline Changes on the Winooski Delta", a UVM masters
project completed in 1988 by Jeffrey Severson in the Field Naturalist
Program. Since that document, the shape, topography, vegetation, and
fauna of the Winooski River have continued the relentless path to
oblivion, with some shorelines moving 10 feet or more per year, or
On 8/6/2012 12:29 PM, Carl Runge wrote:
> Delta Park is owned and managed by the Winooski Valley Park District. The shoreline along the mouth of the Winooski River and the outer westernmost sandbar has historically been off limits to the public as it has been managed for the only known Vermont breeding population of the dune tiger beetle (Cicindela hirtocollis), which is protected as a threatened species in Vermont. The outer sandbar is also protected as a turtle nesting site. Also protected in the northern area of the park is a rare beach pea population.
> I believe the area David describes is open to the public but is near the beach pea population so care should be taken if you venture there.
> This information is several years old. For up to date information please contact the Winooski Valley Park District.
> From: David Rankin <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Monday, August 6, 2012 11:13 AM
> Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Delta Park IBA STILT SANDPIPERS
> I didn't even know there was another area of Delta Park. If you park at the
> boat launch and walk across the bike path, through the little fence lined
> path onto the overgrown beach area, then follow the shoreline south,
> through the wet, marshy area (it helps to wear sandals, as your feet will
> get wet and gross), then further down the beach, after a few minutes you'll
> start to bend to the east and you'll see a series of sandbars that the
> gulls and shorebirds loaf on. (they are also visible from the bike path
> bridge over the river, but you're too far away to really get good looks at
> any shorebirds). The shorebirds were on one of the sandbars closer to shore
> that the terns and gulls mostly avoided.
> That's the only way I know of getting there. Hope that helps.
> On Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 10:32 AM, Maeve Kim <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Is this in the area of Delta Park that requires a key to access - or is it
>> available to anyone?
>> Maeve Kim
>> Jericho Center
>> On Aug 6, 2012, at 10:16 AM, David Rankin wrote:
>>> Spent 2 hours this morning at Delta Park, mainly trying to make sure I
>>> a positive ID on three intriguing birds that just didn't look quite right
>>> for short-billed dowitchers. From a distance I thought that one of them
>>> looked good for a stilt sandpiper, but when I finally got closer (about
>>> 100' away, I could see that all three were STILT SANDPIPERS. They fed
>>> a similar motion to dowitchers, but appeared longer legged and shorter
>>> billed, with a slight curve to the bill. When viewed in flight, base of
>>> tail feathers was distinctly white, and they lacked the white wedge going
>>> up the back.. If I hadn't brought my shorebird guide along, I'd have
>>> think I'd have make an ID, but I had ample opportunity to study them at
>>> close range.
>>> Also present were about a dozen SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 35 LEAST
>>> 1 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 4 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, over
>>> 100 BONAPARTE'S GULLS, 6 COMMON TERNS, about 45 CASPIAN TERNS and a
>>> WILSON'S SNIPE. All the shorebirds were hanging out on one of the
>>> close to shore.
>>> David Rankin