Reptiles & Amphibians
Human Activity

Humans in the Wetland

One of the old stone walls on the lower north slope of Bald Top runs into a beaver pond above Glen Falls Brook, suggesting that some of the wetlands were pastureland before the beavers reclaimed this high drainage system in the middle of the 20th century, possibly later. It must have been around that time that the big wetland off Brushwood Road was called Ben Whiting’s Marsh. The area was also extensively logged until fairly recently, judging from the size and condition of stumps and the modest size of trees now growing in the old skid roads near the banks. Saw-cut stumps can even be seen in the marshes themselves, most likely from before the beavers returned.

Today, the Wetlands have been so long devoid of human activity that they have very nearly reverted to what might approximate their natural state – before the farmers and loggers arrived. With the exception of a few off-trail hikers, hunters, and trappers, they are so seldom visited that most Fairlee residents seem to have forgotten they exist, which has been a boon for reclusive kinds of wildlife. With wetland protections now in place, the area can no longer be drained for farmland or development, and state guidelines prohibit logging near its shores, so it is more likely that beavers, not humans, will be the agents of change here in the foreseeable future.