The Agency of Natural Resources touches the lives of Vermonters in many ways, providing opportunities to swim, hike, hunt, and canoe; safeguarding human health through enforcement of our state laws; generating economic activity; and generally contributing to Vermonts outstanding quality of life. Vermonters cherish their natural resources and the many ways they can enjoy the outdoors across the seasons, and the Agencys 500 employees are proud to serve as stewards of these resources.
The Agencys total budget for fiscal year 1999 is $50.1 million, of which $9.5 million comes from the states General Fund. The Agencys share of the total General Fund is 1.3 percent, a number which has remained nearly constant during the past decade.
A large portion of the Agency's budget stimulates economic activity in Vermont. In fiscal year 1998 (which closed on June 30, 1998), the Agency of Natural Resources pumped more than $24 million into the economy through grants, interest-free loans, and low-interest loans (Figure 1).
Closely linked to the states economy, the Agencys Department of Environmental Conservation administers 38 permit, license, and registration programs and met its performance goals for timeliness of review in 94 percent of the 7,450 final regulatory decisions issued in 1997 (the most recent year for which numbers are available). The Department distributes a customer survey with most permitting actions. Of the 190 responses received in 1997:
To make the permitting process easier to understand, the Departments Permit Handbook now includes fact sheets for several different types of small businesses. These fact sheets outline all the likely regulatory requirements, at the local, state, and federal levels, for each type of business.
The Agency of Natural Resources has stepped up its enforcement efforts in recent years, in part to protect our natural resources and the health of Vermonters, and also because when a company skirts the law, its law-abiding competitors are at an economic disadvantage. Through the first 10 months of 1998, the Agency had received 1,334 complaints from Vermonters about possible violations of our state's environmental laws. As of November 1, the Agency had closed 1,033 complaints, including some carried over from the previous year. Of the closed cases, no violations were found 421; violations were voluntarily corrected in 315; and, enforcement actions were taken in 67.
Vermont Conservation License Plate
Sixteen watershed projects received funding in 1998 through the Agencys new Watershed Fund, one of two programs supported by sales of the Vermont Conservation License Plate. The funded projects are spread across the state and include a variety of watershed protection, recreation, and education efforts.
The Lake Carmi Watershed Committee, in the town of Franklin, has embarked on a community-wide project to identify and clean up pollution sources. The lake experiences algae blooms due to high concentrations of nutrients; these nutrients come from a variety of watershed sources, such as road and stream bank erosion, farm run-off, lawn run-off, and poor septic systems.
As part of an effort to address all of these sources, the committee received a $900 grant from the Watershed Fund to help three farmers incorporate integrated crop management practices. Under the integrated crop management program, a conservation consultant tests the soils on all hay and crop fields. A manure and fertilizer management system is then designed to help farmers maximize the benefits of their herds manure while minimizing the use of chemical fertilizers. The net result is more of the manure stays on the fields, fewer nutrients reach Lake Carmi, and the farmers save significant fertilizer costs.
The other beneficiary of the Vermont Conservation License Plate is the Nongame and Natural Heritage Program, dedicated to inventorying and protecting Vermonts plant life and nongame animals particularly threatened and endangered species. Among the species of special interest to the program is the osprey, also known at the fish-hawk. Osprey, once gone from Vermont, produced 47 fledglings in 1998, topping the record set in 1997 by 10 (Figure 2). Since 1986 when a single nest was documented, biologists, volunteers, and power companies have monitored the growing osprey population and have contributed to its success through the placement of many artificial nesting platforms across the state.
While Vermonts osprey population is recovering, many lesser-known animals remain in danger of disappearing from the state. To document the health, range, and means of protecting these threatened and endangered species, continued support of the Nongame and Natural Heritage Program is crucial. Contributing to the Nongame Game Fund is as simple as purchasing a conservation license plate or checking a box on the Vermont State Income Tax Form.
Geographic Information Systems
One tool for understanding the possible impact of a human activity on the population of a wildlife species, rare or not, is the use of geographic information systems (GIS). The Agency of Natural Resources has become more and more dependent on such computerized information. During the past 10 years, the use of GIS has become recognized as critical to many of our strategic and day-to-day activities.
The Association for Geographic Information defines GIS as a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, integrating, manipulating, analyzing and displaying data related to positions on the Earths surface. Typically, a geographical information system is used for handling maps of one kind or another. These might be represented as several different layers, with each layer holding data about a particular kind of feature, such as dominant forest type, rock outcroppings, utility lines almost anything that can be mapped. Each feature is linked to a position on the graphical image of a map.
Vermonts regional, local, and state agencies have been developing data layers, many from existing paper maps, since about 1989, with additional information provided by private consulting firms and the academic community. The principal coordinating body for GIS information in our state is the Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI), housed at the University of Vermont.
All three departments of the Agency of Natural Resources have developed dozens of data layers dealing with natural resources, our regulatory duties, recreation, public lands, and other related topics. With this information and data layers from others in the Vermont GIS community, we have the tools for better planning and decision-making.
For More Information
To learn more about the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources,
request a copy of the Agencys Bibliography by calling (802) 241-3600.
Environment 1999 is published by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, 103 South Main Street, Center Building, Waterbury, Vermont, 05671-0301.
A printed version of this report is available from the address above.
Both this Web site and the printed report were designed by Page Designs, Inc., Burlington, Vermont. Printed by Leahy Press, Montpelier, Vermont.
Several photos in this report were provided by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. Forest photo in "Vermont's Forests" and grouse photo in "Grouse Habitat Mangement" were provided by Gary Salmon and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
This publication is available upon request in large print, braille, or audio cassette.
The Agency of Natural Resources is an equal opportunity agency and offers all persons the benefit of participating in each of its programs and competing in all areas of employment regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual preference, or other non-merit factors.
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