Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vermont Enacts New Wetlands Legislation

Vermont Business Magazine reports on Vermont's new wetland legislation.

The new law requires the state to update its map of "significant wetlands" and also provides greater protection for unmapped wetlands. Under prior state law, only wetlands identified on the "Vermont Significant Wetlands Map" (Class I or Class II wetlands) were protected from development. Most people involved in wetlands regulation acknowledge that the state wetland map is inaccurate.

The new law (H. 447) requires
the Agency of Natural Resources to update the Vermont wetland maps with information it has accumulated in recent years, including using wetlands maps that towns have created. It also allows ANR on its own or at the request of a citizen to protect unmapped wetlands when they are identified in the field after a public notice period. The law also requires the state to update the Vermont Wetland Rules to require more protection for wetlands that are not on the maps but are similar in size or type to those that do appear on the maps, add protection of vernal pools for the first time ever in Vermont, and provide better guidance for landowners in locating wetlands.

For more information on this new law, check out this recent episode of Vermont Edition over at Vermont Public Radio. Jane Lindholm discussed the details of the proposed legislation earlier in the legislative session with Kim Greenwood, a scientist with the Vermont Natural Resources Council, Melanie Kehne of the Vermont Natural Resources Board, and Bob Hill of the Vermont Association of Realtors.