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VNRC Awards First Round of Small Grants to Organizations Making Smart Growth Efforts in VT

The Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) is pleased to announce the first round of awards made through its new Small Grants for Smart Growth Program. The three projects chosen support the smart growth efforts of communities in diverse and innovative ways, including a project on community planning for local bicycle trails, community outreach around minimizing stormwater runoff, and a urine diversion pilot project to help deal with wastewater in unsewered villages.

“With these grants we’re excited to see the many ways that Vermont’s communities are working to promote livability,” said Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director at VNRC. “We know that even small amounts of funding can help local officials and community groups develop their ideas, so we’re thrilled to help spark these efforts across the state through this flexible grant program.”

The Small Grants for Smart Growth Program, launched this year, provides seed money for community-based, local initiatives related to smart growth, including: 1) advocacy for better land use through municipal planning, regulations, or advocacy in the permit process; and 2) initiatives in the following areas provided they relate to smart growth: transportation; housing; conservation, including agriculture, forestry, and historic preservation; and downtown and/or village center development or revitalization.

  • The Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, working with the Windham Regional Commission, will use its $1,500 small grant for a pilot project in at least one Vermont village that replicates its Nutrient Reclamation Project, the nation’s first community-scale urine recycling program to transform waste into legally-approved fertilizer for agricultural use. With so many villages throughout Vermont facing failing septic systems and other wastewater challenges, this project will help explore a model that could ultimately be used more widely across the state.
  • With its grant of $1,500, the South Hero Land Trust, working with the South Hero Trails Committee and other local partners, will explore the creation of a non-motorized, multi-use trail network that would connect important community resources and natural areas in the core of South Hero. In particular, the grant will provide the Trust with resources for community engagement, ensuring the project meets local needs.
  • The Lewis Creek Association in Hinesburg used its award of $250 to promote village land use strategies to avoid pollution of local streams and burdens on community services. These strategies were presented by local experts at a watershed meeting entitled “Water Matters: Envisioning Healthy Villages and Healthy Watersheds.”

The Small Grants for Smart Growth Program is made possible with assistance from Beth Humstone, co-founder of the Vermont Forum on Sprawl and former VNRC board chair, and her son, Chris Gignoux.

“We are pleased to see these first three grants promote citizen engagement and the demonstration of thoughtful approaches to water quality protection, multi-use trail development and rural wastewater disposal. We hope the results will offer some guidance and inspiration for other communities as well,” said Humstone,

VNRC is continuing to accept applications to this program, on a rolling basis throughout the year. Groups with projects that advance smart growth are encouraged to apply – particularly those whose work advances land use, housing, and transportation goals. Visit https://vnrc.org/programs/sustainable-communities/small-grants-for-smart-growth/ and contact Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director, with any questions. kmccarthy@vnrc.org/ 223-2328, x. 114.