Technical Assistance to Communities
There are many strategies communities can employ to help maintain healthy forests and wildlife habitat. Strategies include regulatory or non-regulatory approaches, and VNRC offers technical assistance to explain the strengths and weaknesses of various options working with interested communities across Vermont.
For example, as part of its technical assistance efforts, VNRC helps communities review the strengths and weaknesses of existing municipal planning and zoning in order to identify opportunities for strengthening wildlife, forestland and natural resources protection through municipal plans and bylaws. This is especially important in light of the Vermont Supreme Court case In re Appeal of JAM Golf vs. City of South Burlington which instructs that town bylaws must be specific in outlining how to protect or conserve natural resources.
VNRC is available to assist municipalities in the following ways:
- Review the strengths and weaknesses of existing municipal planning and zoning strategies to conserve forestland and reduce the impacts of forest fragmentation and parcelization in rural resource lands.
- Develop strategies and model language for municipal zoning bylaws and town plan policies to adequately identify and conserve important forestland parcels and forest resources such as wildlife habitat, watershed functions, recreation resources, timber production areas, etc. (Examples include effective forest reserve districts, town forest designations, wildlife overlay districts, and density bonuses for clustered development, etc.)
- Develop and/or strengthen subdivision regulations to adequately review the impacts of proposed development to forestland resources and ensure appropriate consideration of impacts that may not be covered under state review of development projects (projects outside the scope of Act 250, state permitting procedures for wetlands, impacts from road or trail reclassifications, etc.)
- Develop incentive based policies for landowners and developers to cluster development and maintain rural settlement patterns in town
- Inform municipalities of state and federal landowner assistance and non-regulatory incentive based programs designed to keep forestland and wildlife habitat intact and viable.
To view a generalized planning matrix, click here.
To be in touch with VNRC’s forest program director Jamey Fidel, call (802) 223-2328 X117, or send an email.