Today, VNRC and partners (Conservation Law Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Lake Champlain Committee, Vermont Council of Trout Unlimited, Watersheds United Vermont) wrote to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to express our concern with a developing pattern at ANR of defunding or reallocating monies dedicated to smaller natural resources, environmental, or water quality projects and programs. These funds enable a wide array of groups across Vermont to engage in conservation and restoration projects including outreach, education, invasive species control, and water quality monitoring. This program defunding and reallocation occurred with minimal transparency and no input from partners or the public.
We recognize that the Agency is assessing programs and budgets because COVID-19-related economic impacts have reduced revenue streams. However, our understanding is that cuts to these small grant programs were made in response to staff constraints at the Agency instead of budget shortfalls. We ask that going forward the Agency work in cooperation with partners and the public to find creative solutions for these constraints before program cuts are made.