Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vermont Environmental News, July 27, 2010

Act 250 40 years later | Times Argus Online
To understand the environmental issues of our state, it's necessary to know about Vermont's Act 250, which has regulated development and land use for four decades. Act 250 was the crystallization of an environmental consciousness and conscience when first adopted. It put us in the front rank of the environmental movement, unique among other states. Forty years later, it has lost its dewy innocence. Attacked at first as unworkable and ever since for inefficiency, it has survived more close calls than any comparable law. While still respected, it has begun to show its age. Some environmentalists rue where it has headed.

The law has served as the arena for major battles over residential subdivisions, the growth of ski areas, the expansion or reopening of gravel pits, bear habitats, deeryards, cell towers, big-box retail establishments and agricultural soils. While the crisis began in the mountains of the southern counties, the battle lines soon moved northerly to Burlington, Williston, and eventually St. Albans, where this fall the Environmental Court's hearings on the Walmart store have recently ended.
Pollution in Lake Champlain, Part 3: Treading water: slow clean up continues | Addison County Independent
Warm weather earlier this month sparked blue-green algae blooms in Lake Champlain’s waters, prompting the Vermont Department of Health to caution boaters, swimmers, pet-owners and other residents to avoid contact with the contaminated water.

The water may not be clear, but this much is: Pollution in the form of phosphorus entering the lake poses a serious threat to Lake Champlain’s waters.

But seven years after the state’s “Clean and Clear” action plan for cleaning the lake debuted, the amount of phosphorus entering the lake is only slightly smaller — to the tune of 1 to 3 percent — than it was in 2003.
Lake Champlain to get $10 million for preservation | Boston.com
State and private organizations in Vermont and New York are getting $10 million to help protect Lake Champlain.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy announced the grants Monday at the edge of the lake in Burlington alongside officials with the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other groups.

The money will be used for projects as varied as protecting the Lake Champlain watershed from runoff caused by logging operations in Vermont and New York, to hiring people to work at boat launches in the two states to help prevent the spread of invasive plants that can be carried between bodies of water by boats.
Bats struggle to survive | The Burlington Free Press
A deadly disease continues to decimate Vermont's once-abundant bats.

Researchers returned late last week to a barn in Milton, a typical little brown bat summer colony where females cluster to give birth, raise their pups, and feed nightly on swarms of mosquitoes and other insects.

Five years ago, biologists counted 450 adult bats in the colony. One year ago, they counted 150. Thursday, they tallied just 51.