Month: December 2020

Former cheese plant in Hinesburg gets $5 million redevelopment

first_imgDuring a ribbon cutting ceremony at the site of the former Saputo cheese plant destroyed by fire in September of 2008,  US Senator Patrick Leahy called Saturdayâ s grand opening of Vermont Smoke and Cure and Green Mountain Organic Creamery one of the most impressive community-led agricultural redevelopments he has witnessed in his 38 years representing Vermont in the United States Senate.  The two businesses are estimated to employ more than 40 people in the near future, jobs Leahy said would not have been possible without federal job-creating programs that helped facilitate the development in Hinesburg.â In a state filled with successful stories of agricultural reinvention, the story of the redevelopment of the Saputo site has to be one of the biggest successes in agricultural redevelopment I have witnessed in my time representing the State of Vermont,’said Leahy. â Utilizing federal programs, state programs, equity and debt, the community and their partners have attracted two businesses to town that promise to give Vermont farms opportunities to turn commodities into value added products.  This means more jobs in Hinesburg, but just as importantly, more sustainable farms across the region.âAccording to Vermont Smoke and Cure CEO Chris Bailey, his new 37,000 square foot facility will enable the company to make more smoked meats more efficiently, including a highly profitable line of hams that will help the company grow, potentially creating an additional 25 jobs in the coming years.  Bailey says that about 15 employees from his former facility in Barre moved to the Hinesburg facility.â This expansion will allow us to make more of our own products, to carry out processing for Vermont farmers year-round and to add new products made from meats grown by Vermont farmers,’said Bailey.  â Weâ re thrilled to now operate in a modern facility.âThe owners of Green Mountain Organic Creamery, J.D. and Cheryl DeVos, said they plan to begin processing milk from their Ferrisburg farm, Kimball Brook Farm, at their new Hinesburg operation by the end of the month.  They plan to hire six employees to help run the creamery, and hope to expand to cheeses, yogurt and ice cream in the coming years.â We are really pleased to be headquartered in a building that already has a history of supporting the local working landscape,’said Cheryl DeVos.  â It fits, because creating jobs for the community is an important part of our goals for the future too — as is producing products that are good for the environment and healthy for our bodies.  This past Thursday was our first production day and our bottled milk, labeled under our Kimball Brook Farm name, will start to show up in local groceries. We are thankful to all of the people who over the past four years have made our move, our new facilities, and our dream of bringing local, organic products to the entire community a reality.âThe two companies celebrate their grand openings just shy of four years after a fire shut down the Saputo cheese plant, putting about 80 people out of work.  The Town of Hinesburg quickly acted to ensure the site was used in the best interest of the town and created the Hinesburg Saputo Redevelopment Steering Committee.  The Committee worked with the Greater Burlington Industrial Development Corporation, local commercial real estate company Redstone, and local real estate development company Catamount-Malone to identify and cultivate business prospects that met the needs of the town. â With their focus on value added agriculture, Vermont Smoke & Cure and Green Mountain Organic Creamery fit perfectly with the vision Hinesburg had for the former Saputo facility,’Hinesburg Town Manager Joe Colangelo said.Leahy credited a $600,000 investment from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fundâ s Flexible Capital Fund (Flex Fund) as being one of the final pieces of funding that helped make the Vermont Smoke & Cure move from Barre to Hinesburg possible.  The Flex Fund is Vermontâ s first business-lending program focused on providing royalty financing for growth stage businesses in Vermontâ s natural resource and renewable energy sectors.  With royalty financing, instead of taking a piece of ownership of the company, a lender provides debt that the company repays by sharing a piece of their revenue stream over a fixed period of time.  The Flex Fund makes investments in promising Vermont-critical businesses that might have trouble attracting venture capital due to the slow investment return inherent with smaller, value-focused businesses.  Leahy helped create the Flex Fund by securing a $500,000 federal grant that served as the first money into the Flex Fund, which allowed the Flex Fund to leverage nearly $2.0 million in private investment since Leahy announced the creation of the Flex Fund in May 2011.â In every way, VSC is an ideal first investment for us,’said the Flex Fundâ s President Janice St. Onge.  â They are  a mission-based company, helping more than 600 farmers get their products to market ‘not only by providing smoking services but also by purchasing local meat for their own branded products.  Theyâ re helping to build a strong foundation for local and regional food systems, creating new jobs with benefits, and are expanding in a community that has recently been hard-hit by job losses. Senator Leahyâ s leadership in helping the Flex Fund secure our initial capitalization was critical to our ability to get up and running quickly ‘and get flexible risk capital out the door to growing companies like VSC.âLeahy, the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, heralded two federal agriculture programs that helped the two businesses move to Hinesburg ‘the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) Business and Industry Loan program and the USDA RD Value Added Producer Grant Program.  Vermont Smoke and Cure received a $1.87 million loan guarantee from USDA RD that helped them secure loans to complete the $5,282,350 development.  Green Mountain Organic Creamery received a $225,000 guaranteed loan through the USDA Business and Industry Loan program and a $300,000 USDA RD Value Added Producer Grant to open their Hinesburg operation.â These grants provide the capital resources necessary for business growth and job creation,’said Molly Lambert, USDA RD State Director. â Through these investments USDA is strengthening the economic foundation of rural Vermont.âLeahy said several other state and federal programs facilitated the new development including a $550,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmentâ s Community Development Block Grant program administered by the Vermont Community Development Program and loaned to the Town of Hinesburg and multiple loans from the Vermont Economic Development Authority.  Private partners leveraged the federal funds with millions of dollars in additional capital, including loans from the Vermont Community Loan Fund and the Community National Bank, financing from the landlord and development company Catamount-Malone, and more than $1 million in upfront investment from both Vermont Smoke and Cure and Green Mountain Organic Creamery. HINESBURG (Sat., May 19, 2012)last_img read more

Faith-based group wants dental included in Vermont Health Care Exchange

first_imgThe Board of Directors of Vermont Interfaith Action is calling on the Green Mountain Care Board to include dental benefits for adults in the Vermont Health Care Exchange Plan.‘As more Vermonters have become unemployed or are working in low paying jobs where dental insurance is not offered, and as Medicaid further restricts the use of funds for adult dental care, it is more likely, not less, that more adult Vermonters will postpone preventive care,’Rev. Michael Brown, President of the VIA Board, wrote to the Green Mountain Care Board. ‘It seems unconscionable to talk about making health care ‘affordable’by excluding those who can least afford to be excluded. We feel that the inclusion of dental benefits would be a great expression of justice in our state,’he said.The VIA Board letter was supported by documentation taken from the State of Vermont’s own published reports, that shows that not including dental will end up costing Vermonters more for expensive medical complications that result from lack of oral health. ‘It is a false economy,’the letter said. ‘If we don’t have the funds for prevention through dental care now, how are we going to pay the higher future medical costs for complications that result?’‘It doesn’t make sense to ignore the well documented need for dental benefits to be included,’said Rabbi Joshua Chasan, a member of the VIA Board. ‘Inclusion of dental makes both fiscal and moral sense.’The VIA Board’s call for inclusion of dental benefits follows on recent support for such benefits by Senator Bernie Sanders and others who find the absence of dental benefits in the proposed package to be more of the penny wise, pound foolishness of the existing system which has allowed health care expenses to skyrocket.Vermont Interfaith Action is (VIA) is a faith-based, grassroots coalition of twelve congregations in central Vermont and Burlington that transforms ordinary people into empowered and engaged citizens. Our goal is to create the hope, power, knowledge, and political will needed to make compassion and social justice a reality for all Vermonters, and our mission is to create solutions to systemic issues that prevent our most vulnerable citizens from enjoying the quality of life God intends for us all. Ssource: Vermont Interfaith Action September 7, 2012last_img read more

Southern Vermont receives $470,000 to bolster long-term recovery efforts following Irene

first_imgThe Windham Regional Commission and the Bennington County Regional Commission will receive $470,000 in Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds to bolster long-term recovery efforts in southern Vermont following Tropical Storm Irene, Vermonts congressional delegation announced today. The funds will be used by the regional planning commissions to expand the capacity of public officials and economic development organizations to work with businesses and encourage innovative public/private approaches to promote job creation, support economic diversification, and foster disaster resiliency. Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch fought to include the special one-time EDA disaster funding in last years disaster recovery bill, and then advocated for funding for the Windham Regional Commission and the Bennington County Regional Commission in a letter sent to the EDA Regional Director in June 2012. In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: This infusion of funding will speed the recovery of many southern Vermont communities still working hard to recover from Irene. Vermonters continue to pull together as neighbors and friends to support one another, but there are still many unmet needs. This investment will boost recovery efforts and strengthen the regions long-term economic recovery as we rebound from the damage. Susan McMahon, Associate Director of the Windham Regional Commission, said: Many of our towns have been dealing with public infrastructure recovery and havent had the time or resources to focus on long term development and resiliency planning.  These funds are critical and timely to help our historic downtown and village centers recover and thrive. We are grateful to our congressional delegation, EDA and State and local partners for helping us bring these resources to Southern Vermont. William Colvin, Director of Sustainable Community Development for the Bennington County Regional Commission, said: This project represents a true regional collaboration, as a number of community development, economic development, planning and not-for-profit entities across Windham and Bennington Counties come together to assist those still struggling to recover economically from Tropical Storm Irene.  We are grateful for the funding by the EDA and for the tremendous support of this project shown by Vermont’s congressional delegation.” Laura Sibilia, Project Director for Economic Development with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, said: “This project and these funds are critically needed to help Southern Vermont continue to recover from Irene and to create new sustainable opportunities for our economy to thrive.  This is a very good day!  We are so thankful that both of the Regional Commissions understood the critical nature of this project and agreed to partner with us to shepherd the project through the federal systems.”Source: Vermont Congressional delegation. 12.11.2012last_img read more

General Electric of Rutland gets $8 million Navy contract

first_imgGE Aircraft Engines – Rutland Operation,Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Thursday announced that General Electric Aviation of Rutland has been awarded a US Navy contract for $8,056,982 for the development and production of fighter engines and devices for the EA-18G aircraft. The contract, which is being divided among several regional GE plants, totals more than $67 million and is a modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract.  GE Rutland receives 12 percent of the total award.As the most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Defense Subcommittee, Senator Leahy is an advocate for GE Aviation in Rutland in the defense budget and procurement process and has long championed the plants high-quality jet engine blades and vanes.  The Rutland plant has grown by about 200 positions over the past three years and now employs approximately 1,100 Vermonters.  GE has invested more than $75 million over three years to ensure the continued productivity and efficiency of the Rutland plant and to handle a backlog in engine parts orders.Leahy said, The continued success of GE Rutland is a sign of the superior quality of the work done at the Vermont plant.  Each new contract awarded to the Rutland facility is a reminder of the economic value of GE to our state and of the trust our armed forces place in their products.  There is no greater vote of confidence for a plant such as GE Rutland than to be awarded multiple contracts and the continued opportunity to serve those who protect us all.Our nearly 1,100 employees at Rutland take great pride in manufacturing airfoils for the F414, a workhorse engine for the US Navy, said Dante DiBattista, Plant Leader for GE Aviations Rutland facility. We are grateful for the continued partnership with Senator Leahy and his team. Source: Leahy. 1.3.2013last_img read more

Environmental judge orders Budzyn Removal & Recycling to pay $17,301 penalty

first_imgJudge Thomas Durkin of the Environmental Division has imposed a $17,301 penalty against Fred Budzyn d/b/a Budzyn Removal & Recycling located in Berlin, Vermont, for operating a solid waste facility without the necessary permit. In imposing the $17,301 penalty the Court found that the tires stored on Budzyn’s property in Berlin constituted ‘solid waste,’ primarily because the original owners of the tires discarded the tires and Budzyn received a fee for removing the discarded tires for recycling, reuse, or disposal.  As such, Budzyn’s operation of Budzyn Removal & Recycling since July 2005 without a solid waste certification was unlawful.  After filing an Administrative Order with the Environmental Court, Agency staff met with Budzyn on several occasions to try to resolve the violations without needing a trial.  These efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and a one-day trial ensued. As a result of the evidence presented at trial, the Environmental Division found that Budzyn d/b/a Budzyn Removal & Recycling committed the violations alleged by the Agency and imposed a penalty of $17,301. As a result of the commencement of the enforcement action, Budzyn has since applied for a solid waste certification.  His application has been received and determined to be administratively complete. As part of the permitting process, Budzyn has been required to obtain a financial responsibility instrument designed to ensure a clean-up at the facility, should he fail to fulfill this obligation.  With the permit application completed, and the financial responsibility instrument in place, it is expected that a permit will be issued in the near future.last_img read more

GMO labeling bill heads for full Senate vote

first_imgby John Herrick vtdigger.org An initiative to label foods containing genetically modified organisms sold in Vermont passed a legislative panel Thursday.The Senate Appropriations committee unanimously approved H.112, a food-labeling bill designed to disclose GMOs found in certain foods. The full Senate will take up the bill as soon as next week.Lawmakers anticipate defending the legislation in court and have set up a $1.5 million legal fund for the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. The money will come from legal settlements made with businesses that violate the law; private donations from the public; and any appropriations from the general fund.The committee amended the bill to require lawmakers to redirect any excess money in the fund after July 1, 2018, unless there are pending legal proceedings.The attorney general would issue civil penalties up to $1,000 a day for each product that violates the law.The House last session voted 99-42 in favor of the bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee this year removed triggers requiring it to go into effect only if other states adopt similar labeling provisions. The amended bill unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Chittenden, has made the bill a priority this session.“These have been three really strong committee votes. And the House has very strong votes,” he said after the vote. “So I think there is general will to move this legislation forward.”The House will offer final recommendations on the bill if it passes the Senate.“You never know if it’s going to conference committee what might happen there,” Zuckerman said.last_img read more

Rx drug take back day in Vermont set for September 26

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Governor Peter Shumlin today joined with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), US Attorney Eric Miller, and Vermont Sherriff Association President Roger Marcoux to announce a drug take-back day in Vermont on September 26th from 10 am to 2 pm. Vermont’s drug take-back day is part of a nationwide effort being led by the DEA to ensure the safe disposal of unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs. Collection sites in Vermont can be found by going to www.dea.gov(link is external) or calling 1-800-882-9539. There are currently hundreds of take-back sites on the DEA website in Vermont and surrounding areas in New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts, and more sites will be added before September 26th.“Prescription drugs that fall into the wrong hands, on purpose or by accident, can be incredibly dangerous,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Diversion of prescription painkillers is especially dangerous and helps to fuel the opiate and heroin crisis we’re working to combat. As we continue to work to address the issue of addiction in our state, Vermonters can help by checking their medicine cabinets and safely disposing of any unneeded drugs on September 26.””Unless they are disposed of properly, unused prescription drugs pose a triple threat to Vermonters’ safety,” said U.S. Attorney Eric Miller. “Diverted drugs contribute to Vermont’s opiate epidemic. Accidentally misused drugs are dangerous to patients and their family members. And unnecessarily retained drugs can be a catalyst for property crime and violent crime. Vermonters can help address all of these risks by taking advantage of drug take-back day.”The drug take-back day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue, as many prescription medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Four percent of Vermonters age 12+ misused a prescription pain reliever in 2012, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Since 2010, 188 accidental deaths have been attributed to prescription opioids.  “Prescription drugs are Vermont’s most dangerous leftovers,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “Nearly 70 percent of people age 12 and older who abused prescription painkillers got them from friends or relatives, often straight out of the medicine cabinet. To prevent misuse, we want everyone to know how to safely use, store and dispose of unused or expired medicine.”Beyond abuse of unused prescription drugs, disposal is a challenge as well, with many Vermonters unsure of how to safely dispose of their prescriptions. Flushing unused medications down the toilet or sink is not a safe way to dispose of prescriptions and can be hazardous to the environment, specifically lakes, rivers, and streams. The Vermont Department of Health has information on the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription drugs on their website atwww.healthvermont.gov(link is external).In the previous take-back days nationwide, 4,823,251 pounds, or 2,411 tons of drugs were collected.last_img read more

Vermont AG: State police trooper justified in use of deadly force

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Washington County State’s Attorney Scott Williams and Attorney General William H Sorrell announced today that they have completed separate independent reviews of an incident involving police use of deadly force that occurred on September 11, 2015, in Fayston, Vermont. Both offices have concluded, as a matter of law, that Vermont State Police Trooper Christopher Brown was legally justified in the use of deadly force when he discharged his firearm at Robert Smallidge. The legal standard for the use of deadly force is whether the officer reasonably believed that he or a third party was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, and that deadly force was necessary to respond to the danger.The incident began when the Vermont State Police received a telephone call from Steven Shropshire, the boyfriend of Smallidge’s ex-wife, Erin Smallidge, reporting that Smallidge was intoxicated and refusing to leave their (Erin and Steven’s) property on Route 17 in Fayston. Trooper Brown responded to the call. Steven and Erin had left the property and were waiting at an apartment building next door. Trooper Brown pulled into the driveway of Erin and Steven’s residence and saw Smallidge standing outside holding a can of beer. Trooper Brown attempted to speak with Smallidge, but Smallidge was uncooperative, and eventually set down his can of beer and walked to the entry to the house and reached for something with his right hand. Smallidge then pulled up what appeared to Trooper Brown to be a rifle. Trooper Brown ordered him to drop it, and when he did not, Trooper Brown discharged his firearm at Smallidge as he retreated behind his cruiser. Smallidge went back into the house, then came back outside and picked up his can of beer. He ignored repeated commands by Trooper Brown to get on the ground, and Trooper Brown then discharged his Taser. Smallidge fell to the ground, and Trooper Brown handcuffed him. He discovered that Smallidge had a gunshot wound in his thigh. Trooper Brown provided first aid on the scene until emergency medical staff arrived. Smalidge was then transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center where he was treated and released. A subsequent search of the house revealed a pellet style air rifle with a cut off stock and barrel, approximately 18 inches long. It was located in an open plastic box, on the right hand side of the doorway, within arm’s reach of where Brown observed what he believed was a rifle. There was also evidence that Smallidge was suicidal, and that he was seeking a confrontation with the police.Under the facts of this case, the Washington County State’s Attorney and the Attorney General’s Office concluded independently that Trooper Brown was reasonable in his belief that he was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury when he fired at Robert Smallidge. Given his reasonable belief in a serious threat, the officer’s response of using deadly force was reasonable and justified.The investigation of the shooting was conducted by the Vermont State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation.Vermont Attorney General: Oct 19, 2015last_img read more

English and math testing up from last year

first_imgGrade 8 2438 2477 Grade 4 2522 Grade 6 2531 State Average State Average 40.94% 2583 Proficient Score 57.57% 2567 Grade 5 2432 Scale Score 2436 2016 Smarter Balanced English Language Arts Results 2580 2442 Grade 3 Grade 4 Proficient Score 2552 43.31% Total Proficient  and Above 2485 2528 Grade 7 2539 58.16% 2502 Grade 8center_img Grade 6 2509 2552 Grade 5 Total Proficient and Above 2628 Grade 11 Grade 3 46.04% 2581 53.84% 49.89% 57.22% 2562 2515 2473 2564 Scale Score 55.84% Vermont Business Magazine The new math and English standardized test scores for Vermont were released today and showed better results in nearly every category versus last year. However, the state Education secretary is downplaying any apparent improvement because the testing is only in its second year and she wants to use the new scores as the baseline going forward. As they were last year, the English scores showed greater proficiency among Vermont students than the math scores, except for the youngest students, with the discrepancy generally growing over time.Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe announced the statewide results from the 2015-16 Smarter Balanced Assessments, a set of computer adaptive English language arts and mathematics tests developed by a national consortium currently made up of 15 states, the US Virgin Islands, and the Bureau of Indian Education(link is external).These tests, which were administered this spring to students in grades three through eight and grade 11, provide results aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Over time, the results will provide teachers and parents with an increasingly reliable and accurate snapshot of how their children are performing in English Language Arts and Mathematics, and will offer community members throughout the state a common measure for evaluating the success of schools, both locally and statewide.Vermont’s statewide results:2016 Smarter Balanced Math Results 2586 Grade 7 53.76% 2548 Grade 11 37.76% 56.20% 2567 2482 58.52% 43.87% 2598“These scores are one measure by which we and our schools can assess the impact of our shared efforts to help students learn better,” Secretary Holcombe said. “The proficiency thresholds are intentionally ambitious and give us a baseline to track our progress moving forward.  Our children from more prosperous families continue to rank near the top nationally.  Our most vulnerable youth- those living in poverty, with disabilities, from marginalized populations and who speak English as a second language (see chart at end) – continue to have test scores that are on average lower than our general population. Although we hesitate to draw major conclusions from only one measure, we know that literacy and numeracy are first steps to improved life outcomes for all students.  Children can’t thrive independently in life beyond school if they can’t read, write and use mathematics. These results reinforce our commitment to finding strategies that will help us eliminate these gaps in achievement. If we raise the performance of our lower performing students, more students will graduate with the strong skills they need to create, innovate and power our Vermont businesses and economy into the future. “Although this is the second year the Smarter Balanced Assessments have been administered in Vermont, the Agency of Education is encouraging schools to consider this year’s results as the baseline for determining progress over time.“When we administered the Smarter Balanced tests for the first time last year, Vermont’s students and teachers had very little experience with taking tests on computer, “ said Michael Hock, Agency of Education Test Director.  “For that reason we want to treat the 2014-15 administration as a pilot test, and use those results with considerable caution.”The test scores released today establish a baseline aligned with the Common Core standards, and as such, should not be compared to previous statewide test scores including the 2014-15 Smarter Balanced scores.  The Smarter Balanced Assessments, which challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills in areas such as critical thinking, analytical writing and problem solving, are computer adaptive tests, administered online. Computer adaptive tests adjust the difficulty of the test question based on how a test taker responds to each successive question. If a student answers incorrectly, for example, the computer delivers a slightly easier question. If the student answers correctly, the next question is a bit harder. This process continues until the best possible prediction of a student’s ability is determined. This means very few children take a test that feels too hard or too easy. It also means the test can provide a more precise measure of what students can and cannot do.Individual school data will be released at a press conference during the week of September 19, 2016. The Agency has compiled several tools to help the public interpret these results. For more information visit the AOE website(link is external).MORE RESULTSlast_img read more

Governor Shumlin leads effort to conserve forests in face of climate change

first_imgGovernor Peter Shumlin, second from right, during annual meeting of New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers in Boston August 28-29, 2016. Courtesy photo.Vermont Business Magazine Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin joined four other New England governors and five eastern Canadian premiers to sign a resolution this week committing to conserve three major multistate and provincial forests and waterways in the face of climate change.  Together they resolved to work across borders to maintain connected forests from the northern Appalachian Mountains through the Gulf of St Lawrence. These intact forests foster a healthy working landscape and strong rural economy, as well as provide habitat for irreplaceable native fish, wildlife and migratory species while helping to reduce the effects of climate change.The resolution was signed during the Annual Conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, held this year in Boston on August 28 and 29.Shumlin spearheaded the effort, citing the importance of healthy forests and waterways to Vermont’s economy, history and culture.“Vermonters live close to the land.  They care about the health of the natural environment and understand the connection to their own health and well-being,” said Gov. Shumlin.  “Conserving intact forested lands is the best way to ensure that our economy remains strong, fish and wildlife species stay abundant, and that we’re able to maintain our rural way of life despite the pressures of climate change.”The resolution recognizes the global significance of the region’s landscape as containing one of the largest unbroken temperate broadleaf forests on earth and establishes the importance of connected natural areas for fish and wildlife to move and thrive as climate change alters the landscape.  It notes the importance of the working landscape to the region’s economy, including the tourism, outdoor recreation, and forest products industries.  And it acknowledges that forests not only decrease the effects of climate change by soaking up excess flood waters and filtering runoff, but also by absorbing carbon dioxide emissions directly from the air.By signing the resolution, the governors and premiers commit to collaborating across state and provincial lines to maintain healthy, connected natural areas.  They are pledging to incorporate objectives to maintain connected forests and waterways in their land use planning and policies, including transportation and public infrastructure designs.  And they are calling on their internal Committee on the Environment to report back on progress in the effort every two years through 2020. The Nature Conservancy in Vermont was instrumental in prioritizing this initiative and drafting the language of the resolution, as were biologists with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.  Multiple partnerships that include government and nonprofit organizations are currently actively working to sustain intact, connected natural landscapes in the region, including the Staying Connected Initiative; Two Countries, One Forest; The North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative; and the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. “We are grateful to Governor Shumlin for his leadership on this important initiative. Keeping our forests and waterways connected in Vermont and across our borders is key to sustaining the landscape we love and depend on. This visionary action by our region’s Governors and Premiers provides a vital platform to achieve that goal and will help ensure the vitality of nature and human communities for future generations,” stated Heather Furman, The Nature Conservancy Vermont State Director.last_img read more