What is Act 250?

Historic downtowns, stunning views, and active working lands are quintessentially Vermont. So, too, is Act 250, the legislation that has guided development in the state since 1970, with the goals of safeguarding our farms and forests from sprawl, protecting our natural resources, and helping our towns balance growth with community health and safety.

Act 250 is an environmental review and permitting process that regulates development in Vermont by reviewing the largest development projects for their potential impacts on the surrounding area. There are ten criteria used to evaluate a project, related to issues such as water, transportation, and conformance with local and regional plans.

Act 250 is administered by the Natural Resources Board (NRB), an independent entity in the Executive Branch of Vermont State government. NRB’s primary function is to administer Act 250. Read more at the NRB website.

How has Act 250 shaped Vermont?

There are many ways the Vermont you know and love today has been shaped by Act 250. Here are just a few:

  • Wonder why Vermont has managed to limit big-box sprawl? Act 250 has played a major role.
  • Along with other state policies, Act 250 has helped minimize real estate speculation in Vermont, making our state less vulnerable to economic downturns.
  • Act 250 has protected vital wildlife habitat, such as bear habitat and deer wintering areas, helping to ensure that we have healthy wildlife populations in Vermont.
  • Act 250 has provided a voice for Vermonters in helping shape significant projects that include major ski area expansion, quarrying, major housing developments, and industrial development.

Modernizing Act 250

The next 50 years, and beyond
Act 250 in its current state, despite its many strengths, is not equipped to meet all of today’s challenges, chief among them climate change.

Now is our chance to shape how the law can better serve Vermont in the next 50 years.

In 2020, we're advancing a carefully balanced package that will make Act 250 better for the environment, business, communities, and interested citizens.
Click here to read the latest about Act 250.
Act 250 Resources

Act 250 Priorities

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Keeping forest blocks intact

Ensuring the livelihood of working farms and the safeguarding of natural resources

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Making Vermont more resilient against climate change

Regulating new development in a way that reduces energy use and helps us deal with climate change

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Promoting compact development to enrich downtowns and villages

Reducing sprawl and discouraging scattered, incremental development

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Updating scientific criteria relating to water resources

To address protection of rivers, streams, headwaters, floodways, shorelines, and wetlands

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Act 250 News

Vermont House passes Act 250 modernization bill that strengthens environmental protections in Vermont’s land use law

Montpelier, VT – Today the Vermont House of Representatives passed H.926, an Act 250 modernization bill, 88 to 52 with tri-partisan support. This legislation strengthens Act 250 environmental protections and…

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VNRC and partners urge Vermont Representatives to support Act 250 modernization bill

On behalf of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, The Nature Conservancy in Vermont, Audubon Vermont, Vermont Conservation Voters, and Conservation Law Foundation, we urge the Vermont House of Representatives to…

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Our Goals for Act 250

At VNRC we have championed Act 250 and its role protecting Vermont’s environment and communities for the past five decades. We have been involved in advocating for the law since…

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