From operating fish hatcheries to working with businesses to eliminate toxic waste, from tagging bears to training wastewater treatment plant operators, the 550 employees of the Agency of Natural Resources are committed to stewardship of Vermont's environment. We strive to keep our state special today and to make it an even healthier place for our children and grandchildren.
The Agency of Natural Resources consists of three departments:
The Agency's total budget for fiscal 2001 is $57.4 million, of which $10.8 million comes from the state's General Fund. The Agency's budget accounts for 1.3 percent of the state budget, a percentage which has stayed steady for the past decade.
The Agency of Natural Resources in fiscal year 2000 distributed more than $40 million in grants and loans (See Figure 1) which provided jobs and helped fuel the economy as well as provide environmental protection.
To protect our state's natural resources and help ensure that all businesses compete fairly, the Agency's Enforcement Division investigates complaints lodged by Vermonters. The great majority of investigations carried out by the Enforcement Division commence with a complaint filed by citizens who believe they have witnessed a violation of Vermont's environmental laws.
For the 10-month period that ended October 31, 2000, the Enforcement Division received 1,177 citizen complaints and closed 996 complaints; the number of closed complaints includes investigations carried over from the previous year. Among the closed cases, no violations were found in 390 investigations, violations were voluntarily corrected in 356, and the Agency took enforcement actions in 69.
Education to Help Protect Vermont's Waters
The Agency offers several environmental programs to teachers across the state, including Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, and Project WET -- and all three are producing terrific results in the classroom. For example, the Water Quality Division has been sponsoring Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) since 1995, and today it's thoroughly integrated into several other environmental education programs, such as the Lake Champlain Basin Science Center's EcoPeers Course, Girl Scout Leadership Training, and the Fish and Wildlife Management Course for Educators. Project WET has become a supplemental curriculum to teachers as well as for established educational centers and programs throughout the state.
Responding to a recent University of Vermont survey, 91 percent of the teachers who have received Project WET training said they use the program's materials. Forty-four percent of these teachers have integrated Project WET curriculum into varied subject areas, while 56 percent use the program only in units centered around water.
The Water Quality Division will continue to promote the Project WET program because it teaches children and adults how everyday activities by all of us can contribute to keeping Vermont's lakes, rivers, ponds, and wetlands clean and safe.
Rebuilding Vermont State Parks
In the past year, the Vermont State Parks Division has been busy beginning its "Rebuilding the Parks" initiative that the Vermont Legislature funded with $2.9 million and $1.015 million respectively in the 1999 and 2000 sessions. The most pressing problems facing Vermont State Parks are meeting the infrastructure needs documented in a 1998 study and maintaining a growing park system that depends upon park user fees and monies generated from the seven ski areas that lease state lands. The former can only be met with continued legislative support and appropriations. The $31 million estimate for bringing buildings, wastewater systems, and other infrastructure up to national standards was a conservative estimate, and project costs are all coming in considerably higher than originally estimated.
The second challenge is how to plan, develop, staff, and operate our newest parks. This requires money for the planning and design processes, which may involve surveying as well as contracting with designers,engineers, and architects. Beyond this, financial support is needed for the construction and development of restroom facilities, staff housing, campsites, boat accesses, roads, parking lots, and recreation trails.
Finally, some new parks are markedly different from the traditional Vermont state park and will not generate enough money to cover their costs. Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester, for example, is being designed to meet the environmental education needs of middle and high schools in Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle Counties. Although this park will see considerable use by schools throughout northern Vermont, it will never generate revenues to meet its expenses. The State Parks Division will work with environmental groups such as the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Green Mountain Audubon, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, the Lake Champlain Science Center, and others to provide the programs in the facilities that are planned for the park. The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps has already spent considerable time in developing the trails that these groups will be using as their field classrooms.
Another such park is the Mississquoi Linear Park, a rail trail that stretches from St. Albans to Richford. We don't believe this heavily used 27-mile trail will generate any money toward its operation and maintenance. Other similar parks that we anticipate will not cover their costs are Green River Reservoir State Park in Hyde Park and Eden, Alburg Dunes State Park in Alburg, Lowell Lake State Park in Londonderry, and Sentinel Rock State Park in Westmore.
The Agency of Natural Resources unveiled its new home page in late 2000. Designed to be attractive and easy to use, the new home page offers multiple paths for attaining information from the Agency's three departments.
When visitors arrive at the home page (www.anr.state.vt.us), they find nine headings: Agency Introduction and Greeting; Finding Information; the Agency's Departments; You and the Environment; Maps and Publications; What's New; Students' and Teachers' Page; Highlight of the Month; and Contacting the Agency. From these nine starting points, web users can find any information posted on the Internet by the Agency of Natural Resources.
To Learn More
About this Report
is published by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, 103 South Main
Street, Center Building, Waterbury, Vermont, 05671-0301.