Reports & Publications

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General

VERMONT ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT, VNRC. A magazine focused on what’s happening as it affects the natural world of Vermont. VNRC also produces the VNRC Bulletin, bringing members up-to-date on current issues. VER back issues are also available.  Copies are free with membership, or you can download recent editions here.

VERMONT LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN, VNRC. A pamphlet focused on what’s happening in the Legislature as it affects the natural world of Vermont, with a focus on VNRC’s involvement. Copies are free with membership, or you can download recent editions here.

Forests

A DECADE OF PROGRESS: WILDLIFE CONSIDERATIONS IN LOCAL PLANNING, VNRC and VT Fish and Wildlife Department, 2011.  This report was based on a detailed assessment of all municipal plans and related zoning bylaws and subdivision regulations adopted by Vermont communities.

INFORMING LAND USE PLANNING AND FORESTLAND CONSERVATION THROUGH SUBDIVISION AND PARCELIZATION TREND INFORMATION, VNRC and Vermont Family Forests, 2011.

VERMONT FORESTS AND OUR ENERGY FUTURE. VNRC and National Wildlife Federation, 2011.

CRITICAL PATHS: ENHANCING ROAD PERMEABILITY FOR WILDLIFE IN VERMONT, VNRC and partners, 2009.  This report recommends ‘on the ground’ improvements at priority road crossing zones in the Green Mountain corridor. To download, click here.  The full-size 11X17 map of wildlife crossings in Vermont (from Appendix A) is available as a separate file by clicking here.

ROUNDTABLE ON PARCELIZATION AND FOREST FRAGMENTATION IN VERMONT, 2007. This report came out of the work of the Forest Roundtable, convened by VNRC, to bring together diverse stakeholders interested in the continued health of Vermont’s forest resources.

OLD GROWTH FORESTS – A COMPREHENSIVE LITERATURE REVIEW, 2005. VNRC published a comprehensive literature review pertaining to the ecological characteristics of old-growth forests in Eastern North America.

RECEDING RESOURCES IN A TIME OF NEED, VNRC AND NWF, 1995. In the face of fiscal constraints, and given the proven rationale and strong support for public land ownership, Vermont’s Forest, Parks and Recreation Department has responded by leveraging scarce resources to fulfill their mandate  to encourage the beneficial interaction of people and nature and to lead in the sustainable management of the state’s forest resources.  Unfortunately, the State of Vermont has not provided adequate support for a department that has quietly succeeded in doing more with less.

TROPICAL RAINFORESTS: THE VERMONT CONNECTION, VNRC, 1992. Offers one hundred pages of middle school curriculum materials and ideas, developed by the Vermont Natural Resources Council under a grant from the National Wildlife Federation.

WORCESTER MOUNTAIN PROJECT: AN ECONOMIC PICTURE OF THE FOREST INDUSTRY IN THE WORCESTER RANGE, VNRC, 1991. A report detailing the forest industry in and around the Worcester range, including logging operations and primary and secondary wood processors.

USE VALUE APPRAISAL: HELPING TO FULFILL THE VISION, VNRC and the Current Use Tax Coalition, 1988.

Sustainable Communities

General

HEALTHY COMMUNITY DESIGN, a topic paper released by the Vermont Land Use Education and Training Collaborative.

A DECADE OF PROGRESS: WILDLIFE CONSIDERATIONS IN LOCAL PLANNING, VNRC and VT Fish and Wildlife Department, 2011.  This report was based on a detailed assessment of all municipal plans and related zoning bylaws and subdivision regulations adopted by Vermont communities.

INFORMING LAND USE PLANNING AND FORESTLAND CONSERVATION THROUGH SUBDIVISION AND PARCELIZATION TREND INFORMATION, VNRC and Vermont Family Forests, 2011.

GREENSPACE IN VERMONT: PUBLIC FUNDING SOURCES AND PROJECTS, VNRC, 1998.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND BROADCASTING TRANSMISSION FACILITIES IN VERMONT, VNRC, 1997. This report, intended for citizens, legislators and municipal officers, serves as an update on the telecommunications industry. It covers public health issues, deployment in Vermont, the legal framework and an environmental perspective.

CITIZEN ACTION GUIDE, VNRC, 1992. This guide is a valuable resource for towns and individuals seeking advice on what to do when unwanted development comes to town. Tips include a citizen’s guide to Act 250 and Act 200, facts on water, conservation, bibliographies, and many more resources.

PLANNING FOR OPEN SPACE, Humstone Squires Associates for VNRC et al., 1989.

BOTTLES AND CANS: THE STORY OF THE VERMONT DEPOSIT LAW, VNRC and NWF, 1978.

Act 250

THE VALUABLE ROLE OF CITIZENS IN ACT 250, VNRC, 1999. This paper explores the five most frequently voiced criticisms of citizen involvement in the Act 250 process. The criticisms are countered with factual information and arguments demonstrating the importance of direct citizen involvement. Includes case studies, an overview of the current system of public involvement and a summary of Act 250 appeals.

SO GOES VERMONT, 23 minute video, VNRC, 1993 edition. So Goes Vermont was created as a slide-tape presentation in 1971 by the VNRC “EPIC” Project in order to increase public understanding of Vermont’s growth issues and the newly enacted Act 250. A powerful portrait of Vermonters and their issues (focuses on Quechee Lakes and Theron Boyd), and perhaps even more compelling today. This video is an excellent opener for land use discussions.

MADE IN VERMONT: THE DIVIDENDS OF ACT 250, 20 minute video, VNRC, 1993. A videotape showing Act 250’s impact, in the words of Vermonters who have had experiences with the law. A diverse range of business people, including Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s, former VT Development Secretary Elbert Moulton, and banker Zoe Erdman, present their views on Act 250’s importance to Vermont’s economy. In addition, citizens who have protected their homes and businesses through Act 250 speak about the importance of public participation.

ACT 250: A POSITIVE ECONOMIC FORCE FOR VERMONT, VNRC, 1992. This paper sets out the relevant evidence to support that Act 250 is a valuable economic asset. It explores the fallacy of the “negative impact theory” and the nature and extent of the positive relationship between Act 250 and Vermont’s economy.

ENVIRONMENTALISM AND ECONOMIC PROSPERITY: TESTING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT HYPOTHESIS, Stephen M. Meyer at MIT, 1992.

Smart Growth Vermont Publications (SGV merged with VNRC in 2011)

VIEWS TO THE MOUNTAIN. This Manual details how to assess scenic assets and provides examples of regulatory and non-regulatory solutions, including building and site selection suggestions. It can be downloaded in three parts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

DEVELOPING, COLLECTING AND ANALYZING INDICATORS OF DOWNTOWN HEALTH: A HANDBOOK.  This handbook details the process of our Indicators of Downtown Health research project and describes how to use this process in your community. You can download the handbook, and peruse associated documents.

SMART GROWTH IN VERMONT. These brochures explains smart growth principles and gives examples of smart growth from around Vermont: 2007 edition | 2009 edition

THE ROADSCAPE GUIDE. The Roadscape Guide: Tools to Preserve Scenic Road Corridors is designed to help communities conserve areas of open space between cities and villages to permanently preserve viewsheds and scenic gateways along road corridors.  The Guide helps communities get started by conducting a visual analysis of their roads to help them identify key features and views.

A VIEW FROM THE ROAD: PATTERNS, PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES FOR ROADSCAPE DESIGN. This brochure provides more in-depth design guidelines for roadscape design and is intended to be used with the Roadscape Guide.

VERMONT NEIGHBORHOODS PROJECT.  This publication shows how communities can encourage neighborhood development in and adjacent to downtowns and village centers. Featuring site plans for parcels in Middlebury, Shoreham and Vergennes, The Vermont Neighborhoods Project describes the public planning process, including aerial and elevation images and outlines current project activities.

NEW MODELS FOR COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT. Smart Growth Vermont partnered with the Vermont Business Roundtable to create models for commercial and industrial development, as well as recommendations for policy changes. New Models for Commercial & Industrial Development features five smart growth, mixed-use site plans for specific parcels in Bennington, South Burlington and Waterbury.

COMMUNITY RULES – A NEW ENGLAND GUIDE TO SMART GROWTH STRATEGIES.  Written by Smart Growth Vermont and the Conservation Law Foundation, Community Rules is a guidebook for local planners, concerned citizens, and others who want to achieve smart growth in their communities through better planning, zoning, and permitting.  The Guidebook has been used by local officials, community organizations and academic institutions.  The Guidebook is available as individual chapters.

THE VERMONT SMART GROWTH SCORECARD – A COMMUNITY SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL. This community self-assessment tool provides questions local planners and citizens can ask themselves to see where their town stands on the sprawl to smart growth continuum. Developed in partnership with the Orton Family Foundation, it is a valuable guide for updating town plans and regulations and encouraging citizen involvement.

GROWING SMARTER – BEST SITE PLANNING FOR RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT. This handbook provides communities, developers, non-profit groups and others interested in smart growth with a set of best development practices for residential, commercial and industrial development – practices that characterize and promote “smart growth” as a viable alternative to sprawl. Examples are included to illustrate that smart growth is happening in Vermont and around the country.

GROWING SMARTER – MAKING SMART GROWTH WORK. This handbook provides an overview of tools and strategies that can be used to make smart growth work. It is a good place to get familiarized with tools and processes that make the link between planning and smart growth.

COMMUNITIES AND THE LAND. Vermont leads the nation in per-capita direct sales of produce from farmers to consumers.  By supporting Vermont-grown products, you are making a lasting difference in your community and the landscape of Vermont and keeping your hard earned dollars in the state.  Whether you join a community supported agriculture (CSA), buy produce at the farmers market, frequent your community’s general store or purchase products from a local business, you are helping to keep our rural landscape a viable economic force. If you are unsure of where to get started, our publication, Communities and the Land provides examples and stories of what other individuals and towns are doing to strengthen the connections with the working landscape.

EXPLORING SPRAWL RESEARCH SERIES. The Exploring Sprawl Research Series examines Vermonters’ opinions on land-use issues pertaining to sprawl.

STATE OF VERMONT: 2007 UPDATE TO THE SMART GROWTH PROGRESS REPORT. This 2007 Smart Growth Progress Report Update represents a comprehensive evaluation of Vermont’s policies, programs and investments, documenting and quantifying how specific state programs — including economic development incentives, school construction and transportation investments — have engendered smart growth or sprawl. Smart Growth Vermont is coordinator of the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative and a co-author of this report.

STATE OF VERMONT: SMART GROWTH PROGRESS REPORT.  The Smart Growth Progress Report represents a comprehensive evaluation of Vermont’s policies, programs and investments, documenting and quantifying how specific state programs — including economic development incentives, school construction and transportation investments — have engendered smart growth or sprawl. Smart Growth Vermont is coordinator of the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative and a co-author of this report.

COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS IN SMART GROWTH. This publication is offered as part of a series designed to help local officials, citizens and interest groups plan for growth.  Community Investments iN Smart Growth: A Decision Maker’s Guide was prepared by the Vermont Forum on Sprawl in cooperation with The Orton Foundation. Research and drafting was conducted by Yellow Wood Associates.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: HOUSING AND WAGES IN VERMONT. This publication provides statistics and information on the housing crisis facing Vermont. According to this report, almost half of all Vermonters cannot afford the median priced home. Published by the Vermont Housing and Finance Agency, this is the 2010 update of this annual report.

Taxation

TAX REFORM THAT AGREES WITH VERMONT, 2005, by Gary Flomenhoft, Evangelos Germeles, and the Vermont Fair Tax Coalition. The report describes how shifting taxes can support activities society wants to discourage, such as those that increase pollution and spur sprawl. The report outlines strategies and recommendations which would use the power of taxes to encourage activities which would provide lasting benefits for our economy and environment.

THE LAND USE – PROPERTY TAX CONNECTION, Deb Brighton & Brenda Hausauer for VNRC and VLCT, 2002. This publication is a guide and workbook on the tax implications of development in Vermont.

TAXING POLLUTION, Rebecca Ramos & Deb Brighton for VNRC, 2000. Research shows that taxing pollution and reducing taxes can produce economic vitality and environmental protection with social equity.

RUNNING WITH THE LAND: THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF VERMONT’S USE VALUE APPRAISAL PROGRAM, Rebecca Basch, 1996. A white paper the provides the public and decision makers with an historical and future-oriented look at property taxation and the Use Value Appraisal Program (Current Use program) in Vermont, along with alternative strategies used in other states.

ENVIRONMENTAL TAXES IN NEW ENGLAND, for Vermont Law School by Janet E. Milne and Susan Hasson, 1995. An inventory of environmental tax and fee mechanisms enacted by the New England States and New York.

TAXATION OF LAND SUBJECT TO CONSERVATION EASEMENTS IN VERMONT: A LISTER’S GUIDE, Deb Brighton and Davis Cable, 1992. Workbook prepared for conservation easement workshops; provides practical information for listers, town officials, and landowners on how to list conserved land for property tax purposes.

THE TAX BASE AND THE TAX BILL, Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) & VNRC, 1990. A workbook used to help public officials and citizens project the direct costs and revenues associated with proposed developments in their towns and estimate the effect on the tax rate.

Wal-Mart

ECONOMIC, FISCAL, AND LAND USE IMPACTS OF PROPOSED WAL-MART STORE ON FRANKLIN COUNTY COMMUNITIES, Thomas Muller and Elizabeth Humstone, 1994.

FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND ORDER, Vermont Environmental Board, December 1994. Findings of the Environmental Board on the St. Albans Wal-Mart Decision.

BACK AGAINST THE WAL, 18 min. video. Produced by Ann Cousins and Townsend Anderson; written & narrated by Pulitzer prize winning commentator, Ron Powers, 1994. VNRC and the Preservation Trust of Vermont present a new videotape that documents the effects of Wal-Mart-type development on small rural communities in the Midwest and Texas. The video poses questions: “What happens to the local tax base when businesses lose out to giant national discount chains? What does it cost to bring back a downtown? Who is paying the price-tag? Who takes over community services that traditionally relied on local merchants’ involvement?”

Water

MUNICIPAL PLANNING FOR GROUNDWATER PROTECTION: ACT 199 AND LOCAL OPTIONS FOR GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT, VNRC, 2012.

UNCHECKED AND ILLEGAL, VNRC, 2008. An on-the-ground review revealing that developers across Vermont are routinely violating the federal Clean Water Act and that ANR is failing to bring enforcement actions for those violations.

LOWER LAMOILLE RIVER HISTORY, Jeff Fellinger for VNRC, 2000. A history of the lower Lamoille River with references to the Peterson Dam.

MODEL RIVER PROTECTION REGULATIONS, VNRC, 1990. Provides planning tools for local municipalities which can then be modified to become part of a municipality’s zoning ordinance. The report provides guidelines for establishing a river overlay district.

WHAT’S GOING ON DOWN THERE? – VERMONT’S GROUNDWATER, VNRC, 1982 (second printing).

Energy

WEATHERIZING TOWN BUILDINGS: WHAT LOCAL OFFICIALS AND ENERGY COMMITTEES NEED TO KNOW, Windham Regional Commission, 2012.

ENERGY PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION GUIDEBOOK FOR VERMONT COMMUNITIES, 2011.  Click these links to download the main guidebook or the companion volume of case studies.

BASIC PRIMER FOR ENERGY COMPONENT OF MUNICIPAL MASTER PLANS, Brian Shupe, 2008.

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM CENTRAL VERMONT ENERGY COMMITTEE MEETING, 2008. Click these links to download Tips for Strengthening Energy Committees and Retaining VolunteersVermont Fundraising Resources (NEGEF), Energy Contest Fact Sheet, or Energy Savings Checklist.

TOWN ENERGY AND CLIMATE ACTION GUIDE, VECAN, 2007. Guides citizens interested in starting an energy or climate action committee in their Vermont town or city.

ENERGY CHAPTER OF THETFORD TOWN PLAN, 2007.

GUIDE TO MUNICIPAL ENERGY PLANNING, Vermont Department of Public Service, 1993.

EARTHRIGHT INSTITUTE’S GUIDE TO TOWN ENERGY PLANNING IN VERMONT (with Model Town Energy Plan), 1992.

TOWN ENERGY PLANNING: A FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION, Paul Markowitz.