It wasn’t just autumn leaves at peak brilliance—so was this weekend’s conversation around climate change and local strategies for resilience at the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions (AVCC)’s Annual Summit, “Planning for a Climate-Changed Future”. Held at the Lake Morey Resort on Saturday, conservation commissions, climate scientists, activists, and environmentalists from around the state convened to discuss community resilience, the intricacies of climatology region by region, and the long-standing structural inequities that have resulted in low-income and historically disenfranchised populations being disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. With rousing Keynotes by Taj Schottland, Associate Director of the National Climate Program, Trust for Public Land, and Arthur Gibb Award winner Zoe Richards, Director of the Burlington Wildways Partnership and Burlington Conservation Board; a packed room for Vermont State Climatologist Lesley-Ann Dupigny Giroux; and many more, the mood was hopeful as attendees were engaged and poised for action.
Jon Groveman (VNRC’s Policy and Water Program Director) and Karina Dailey (VNRC’s Restoration Ecologist) led a particularly informative discussion on how intact freshwater systems build climate resilience, and the importance of freshwater ecosystems—including our rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, riparian areas, and floodplains—as critical resources we must protect in the interest of public health and combating the effects of climate change. Karina provided the science about these freshwater systems as intact, functioning networks (and the risk to rivers and streams posed by derelict dams across the state), and Jon elaborated on the existing regulatory framework, policy priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and state and local strategies for strengthening clean water protection.