MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Agency of Natural Resources will hold a meeting to discuss proposed changes to Vermont’s threatened and endangered species law. The meeting will take place August 5, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pavilion Auditorium, 109 State Street, Montpelier, Vt.
The changes to the law are intended to revise the language of the law to improve its effectiveness and to make the permit process more efficient and consistent for applicants.
Deb Markowitz, Secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources, said “our goal is to better ensure the survival of vulnerable plants and animals while simplifying the process for landowners to get permits for activities that might impact these species.”
The Agency of Natural Resources has proposed two major changes to the law. The first change would allow biologists to identify and protect critical habitat that threatened and endangered species need to survive. Only clearly defined critical habitats, which are limited in area, would be designated for specific species through the rulemaking process. This process will involve public notice, at least one hearing, and an opportunity to comment.
“Vermont’s endangered species law has changed little since it was first written in 1981,” said Steve Parren, Wildlife Diversity Program Manager for Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “We feel these changes are necessary to effectively protect species that are struggling to thrive in our state.”
Parren cited several examples that might be considered for critical habitat designation. “Bald eagles often use the same tree to nest year after year, so cutting down the nest tree when the eagle is not actively nesting there could prevent it from nesting successfully in the future,” said Parren. “We would also want to avoid activities near caves that contain endangered Indiana bats that might impact the cave conditions needed by the bats for hibernation”
The second proposed change to the law would allow the Agency of Natural Resources Secretary to issue general permits to cover routine activities such as display of specimens for education. This change would allow the Secretary to fashion permits that protect threatened and endangered species and provide greater efficiency in the permitting process.
Finally, the Secretary and permittees have greater flexibility to fashion mitigation strategies to benefit the long-term survival of a species.
“We invite conservationists, landowners, business owners, and anyone who is interested in the proposed updates to the law to attend the meeting to learn more, ask questions, and let us know what they think,” said Parren.