Derway Island Nature Preserve & Derway Cove

January 19, 2024 Update: The rain and snowmelt on 12/18 & 12/19 caused the Winooski River to reach major flood stage for the second time in the last five months, again causing erosion and damage to trails. Please use caution on trails near river edge as erosion and undercutting of the river bank is occurring. The Winooski River remains high and moving swiftly for this time of year. 

Derway Island Nature Preserve

Derway Island in Burlington is actually not an island but a peninsula. The park is a 148-acre nature preserve acquired with help from The Nature Conservancy, who maintains a conservation easement over the land. For an urban area, the extent to which the ecological communities and systems are intact is unusual. The property also supports several rare species and significant plant communities. Derway Island is largely timbered with several excellent shrub swamps and an emergent marsh on the western edge. The dominant trees are red and silver maples, elm, ash, birch and cottonwood. Buttonbush is the principal species in the swamps.

The diversity of wildlife is high because of the varied plant communities found in a relatively small area. Songbirds are numerous, and it is an important area for wading birds. Osprey and other birds of prey have been sighted as well as a variety of ducks. Larger mammals, such as beaver, muskrat, raccoon, fox, otter, mink and deer are also known to use the area.

The watery channels within this Nature Preserve are important breeding areas for several species of fish from Lake Champlain such as northern pike and chain pickerel. The isolated nature of the land makes it an important stop for migrating birds.

Derway Cove

Please use caution if visiting and stay away from the river edge as significant erosion has occurred from the December 18 & 19, 2023 flooding and the July 11 & 12, 2023 flooding. 

In August 2018, after more than a year putting together the transaction, the Bowler family sold the Rivers End Marina to the Winooski Valley Park District adding about 2.5 acres to the existing 148 acre Derway Island Natural Area.  It was a special privilege for us to get to know the Bowlers, learn the rich history of their tenure at the Marina, and build a relationship that we treasure.

Funding acquired from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Burlington Conservation Legacy Fund, and WVPD Capital reserves supported the purchase.  Demolition of the buildings and infrastructure was funded by a FEMA grant, with park development funded by the Lake Champlain and Tributaries Restoration Fund through the Vermont Community Foundation.

Derway Cove protected by a conservation easement with an overall management goal to continue the re-naturalization of the shoreline while enhancing public access.  It is open dawn to dusk, and available as a boating access, fishing spot, and a great addition to Derway Island Natural Area.