ENVIRONMENT 97

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[Lake Champlain & Memphremagog][Human Health Perspectives][Ecosystem Perspectives]
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Economic Perspectives][Program Indicators][Additional Resources]

Introduction

Environment 1997 is markedly different from the three previous indicators reports produced by the Agency of Natural Resources. We open this year's assessment of Vermont's natural resources with a report on our state's two largest bodies of water, Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog, and their watersheds, and we examine them under the broad headings of human health, ecosystems, and the economy.

Watersheds are regions draining into a river or lake, and the Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog watersheds together encompass more than one-half of our state's land mass. We Vermonters are increasingly aware that many of our everyday activities - although we may live dozens of miles from either of these two lakes - can have consequences for Lake Champlain or Lake Memphremagog. Within the Lake Champlain Basin, for instance, phosphorus run-off from a farm in Swanton, gasoline leaking from an underground storage tank in Rutland, and oil washed off a parking lot in Barre may all find their way into the lake, possibly resulting in damage to the lake's waterfowl, a health threat to swimmers, and a costly clean-up.

This is an appropriate time to talk about Lake Champlain in particular, as the Lake Champlain Management Conference approved its final report in late 1996, culminating in a plan of action signed by Vermont, New York, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The plan's top priorities are to reduce the volume of phosphorous and toxic contaminants entering the lake and to implement a management program to halt the spread of exotic, or non-native, aquatic species, such as zebra mussels.

The remainder of this year's report is also different. Because issues regarding the environment rarely effect only the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the land we build upon, we again view environmental trends from the three perspectives of human health, ecosystems, and the economy, with a special focus on exotic species, mercury, and our Agency's land conservation efforts.

As in past years, we conclude the report with program and budgetary information about the Agency of Natural Resources.

We hope you enjoy Environment 1997. As always, we invite you to send us your comments.

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