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good shoreland development

Speak up for Clean Lakes Next Tuesday, March 12

Vermont is blessed with stunning lakes, some 800 of them in fact. Many lucky Vermonters are lucky to live on these water bodies, but we all have a stake in keeping them healthy and clean. Lakes and ponds provide invaluable recreational, economic and inspirational value and the state can and should take further steps to keep them crisp, clean and healthy.A bill under consideration in the Legislature will do just that . . . but we need your help!

Next Tuesday, March 12, the legislature’s House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee is holding a critical public hearing on the so-called shorelands bill, H.223. The bill – the final form of which is still under discussion – would likely set up a regulatory program establishing a shoreline protection zone along the edges of lakes and ponds.

Please attend the hearing and offer your thoughts on the value of protecting and enhancing the quality of Vermont’s lakes and ponds next Tuesday, March 12, from 6-8 pm in room 11 at the State House in Montpelier. The nine-member committee wants to hear your comments on a first-come, first serve basis.

The Agency of Natural Resources, VNRC, the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds, Lake Champlain International, the Lake Champlain Committee, the Conservation Law Foundation and Vermont lakeshore property owners are among those who have spoken in favor of this bill. But the committee needs to hear from even more Vermonters.

Here are a few points you could mention:

Vegetated shorelines:

  • Assure strong lakeside property values well into the future. (Who wants to buy or rent a lakeside house if you can’t swim in the lake?)
  • Promote great habitat for birds and fish
  • Keep water safe for swimming and other recreation
  • Protect homes and camps from flood damage
  • Help support the critical tourism economy
  • Guard against the massively expensive, after-the-fact lake and pond cleanup costs, borne by both lakeshore property owners and taxpayers (e.g. Lake Champlain.)
  • Are the single best tool we have to protect waters that belong to all Vermonters.

The legislation:

  • Offers lots of flexibility for landowners, as existing buildings, decks and paths, lawns, garden and other non building uses would be exempt, as would trimming of vegetation to create views
  • Does not add any new regulations on docks or piers
  • Offers balance because it increases water quality protection and preserves landowner flexibility
  • Brings Vermont in line with Maine and New Hampshire who have very similar state-level protections
  • Allows towns that already have strong lakeshore protections to keep them

To learn more, please contact VNRC’s water program director Kim Greenwood, or phone 802-223-2328 ext. 119.

We are counting on you! Let’s pack the house!