Agency of Natural Resources consists of three departments:
Environmental Conservation, which administers most of the Agencys
regulatory programs plus several voluntary pollution and waste reduction
Fish and Wildlife, which manages Vermonts fisheries and
wildlife resources, enforces the states hunting and fishing
laws, and studies and inventories nongame wildlife species and natural
Forests, Parks and Recreation, which operates the Vermont State
Parks system, manages state forests and natural areas, and provides
assistance in the areas of forestry, recreation, and conservation
In addition, the Agencys Central Office includes the
Secretarys Office and supports the departments by providing
several administrative, enforcement, planning, information technology,
and human resource services.
Agencys total budget for fiscal 2002 is $61.6 million, of which
$11.3 million comes from the states General Fund. The Agency's
budget accounts for 1.29 percent of the state budget, a percentage
which has remained steady for the past decade.
Agency of Natural Resources typically distributes more than $25 million
in grants and loans annually, money that provides jobs and helps fuel
Agencys Enforcement Division investigates possible violations
of Vermonts environmental laws. Most of the Divisions
investigations begin with a complaint filed by citizens who believe
they have witnessed a violation of Vermonts environmental laws.
the first 10 months of 2001, the Enforcement Division received 1,044
citizen complaints about problems ranging from illegal backyard burning
to the draining of wetlands. As of October 31, 833 complaints were
closed (this figure includes investigations carried over from the
previous year). Among the closed cases, no violations were found in
306 investigations, violations were voluntarily corrected in 317,
and the Agency took enforcement actions in 36.
its Environmental Assistance Division, the Department of Environmental
Conservation each year works collaboratively with hundreds of businesses,
large and small, to resolve pollution issues. As an example, Division
staff in 1998 began working with the Green Mountain Spinnery, which
operates a custom wool and mohair processing facility in Putney. One
step in the conversion of raw fibers to finished yarn involves washing
the fibers to remove grease, dirt, and other contaminants. Due to
the high concentration of natural oils and grease present on sheeps
wool, wash water discharged to the wastewater treatment plant frequently
exceeded permit limits set for oil and grease.
staff worked with the Spinnerys owners, Putney town officials,
the wastewater treatment plant operator, and staff from the Department
of Environmental Conservations Wastewater Management Division
for three years to resolve the problem. A team representing all partners
researched, tested, and evaluated various options for removing wool
grease from the wastewater.
the end, the problem was resolved by changing the washing process
to reduce the volume of contaminated water requiring treatment, and
by treating the remaining wastewater with a small ultra-filtration
system prior to discharge. The system has been operational now for
nearly a year and grease levels have been maintained well within permit
is a silvery liquid metal used in consumer products such as thermostats,
household appliance switches, and fluorescent lamps. Its also
a toxin that can cause serious, and sometimes permanent, health damage.
can enter the environment through natural means, such as volcanoes
and out-gassing from the oceans, and through human actions, such as
the burning of coal, the incineration of products that contain mercury,
and something as simple as breaking a mercury fever thermometer. When
mercury enters a waterway, it concentrates in fish at levels that
can be dangerous for people who eat fish, particularly pregnant women
and young children, as it can impair nervous system development. Due
to mercury contamination, the Vermont Department of Health has issued
consumption advisories in recent years cautioning anglers to limit
how much fish they eat.
there are sources of mercury pollution that we cant control
such as the coal-burning Midwest power plants that discharge
it into the atmosphere there are other sources that we, as
citizens of this state, can eliminate.
early 2001, the Agency of Natural Resources asked Vermonters to collect
their old mercury thermometers and exchange them at their local pharmacies
for new digital thermometers.
response was nearly overwhelming. Approximately one out of every seven
Vermont families exchanged at least one mercury thermometer, a tremendous
response rate. Based on exchanges in other states, the Agency anticipated
a need for between 10,000 and 15,000 digital thermometers. Midway
through the exchange, as the response rate soared beyond anything
seen in other states, we had to quickly order more. By the time we
were done, participating pharmacies handed out 33,000 free digital
to the 111 participating pharmacies across the state more than
90 percent of all pharmacies in Vermont the Catch the Fever
thermometer exchange collected nearly 45,000 mercury thermometers.
Because thousands of Vermonters understood the importance of safely
disposing mercury, more than 98 pounds of this toxic metal were collected
through the exchange.
of the best ways to improve the health of Vermonts rivers and
streams is to allow streamside woodlands to grow, and this may require
no effort on the part of the landowner. Known as a riparian
buffers, the dense growth of trees, shrubs or combination of
vegetation along the edge of a river improves water quality and benefits
the fish and other species that live in the river.
noted on page 12 of this report, today we know streamside buffers
are essential for maintaining healthy fish habitat, reducing flood
damage, limiting pollution run-off into rivers, controlling phosphorus
reaching Lake Champlain and other lakes, controlling erosion, and
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in 2001 published The Streamside
Sentinel, a 12-page introduction to riparian buffers. The document
explains the science and benefits of these buffers, notes how farmers,
municipalities, and others are working toward restoring soil-binding
root systems along Vermonts waters, and directs readers to sources
of additional information.
Streamside Sentinel, filled with photos and graphics, is an excellent
resource for municipal officials, land trusts, anglers, high school
students, and all Vermonters interested in the vitality of our states
natural resources. The Streamside Sentinel is available by calling