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Otter Creek: artery of history, wildlife

The second set of falls, the Otter Creek Falls, is in the town of Middlebury, the site chosen in 1800 to be Vermont's original seat of higher education, Middlebury College. According to Around Middlebury, Otter Creek is the longest river in Vermont and was once an important "highway" through the western part of what is now the state.

In Addison County, Otter Creek passes through significant wetlands, in particular Cornwall Marsh, Little Otter Creek Marsh and the Brandon Swamp.

Because it is called a creek, the unusual situation of a river emptying into a creek occurs several times along its length. The source and mouth are separated by 68 miles (109 km) miles distance - the (approximate) additional 44 miles (71 km) are due to meandering.

The creek and surrounding swamps are teeming with wildlife. In the summer, wide-ranging mammals like bear, moose and bobcat feed here. Otter Creek swamps are also one of the most important stopover areas for migratory waterfowl in the region.

There are seven named swamps along Otter Creek: Brandon, Leicester Junction, Long, Salisbury, Whiting, Middlebury and Cornwall Swamps which are all part of the larger wetland system.

Cornwall Swamp was designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. National Park Service in 1974. The Conservancy helped the State of Vermont acquire portions of the Cornwall Swamp Wildlife Management Area

Vermonters have a strong tradition of enjoying and caring for wildlife. Fifty-three percent of Vermont residents enjoy some form of wildlife-related recreation, including fishing, hunting, and watching wildlife, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey. More than 200,000 Vermonters regularly watch, photograph, or feed wildlife.

While there are many sporting and environmental organizations working to conserve the Otter Creek's wildlife and wildlife habitat, citizens all can play a role in protecting the state's wild animals, too.

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