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VNRC Vermont News:

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Climate Change, Water Availability, Emerging as Considerations for Would-Be Vermont Land Buyers

In recent months, real estate brokers in Vermont have fielded what appear to be increasing inquiries from would-be land buyers from out of state who are concerned about climate change and water availability.

Wade Treadway, a Woodstock real estate broker, wrote in his blog in early April that climate change is clearly beginning to drive out-of-state interest in Vermont real estate.

“The latest trend that I am seeing is a strong reaction to the obvious changes taking place world wide due to climate change,” he wrote. “I have in the last two months had three international inquiries about properties that started with questions about water. Vermont is blessed to have such an abundance of water, natural resources and the legislative laws to protect them. The weather patterns of the last few years have demonstrated that our world is indeed changing and more people are looking to places that can and will adapt to those changes easily . . . I am experiencing a dramatic increase in inquiries, showings and sales over the last year that I can fully attribute to growing concerns about climate change and its impact on our environment.”

In a recent news story, the Barton Chronicle highlighted this trend, reporting on a couple who had recently moved from Colorado where water was very scarce, to land in Glover that has a stream running through it. “You can’t buy property with water in Colorado unless you’re rich,” the paper quoted Karl Hayden, one of the buyers, as saying.

Read Wade Treadway’s full blog post.

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Energy Siting Commission to Release Report Soon

FEMAA commission charged with recommending ways to improve the process for siting energy generation projects, including large wind energy projects, is wrapping up its work and is scheduled to release its report in the coming weeks.

The five-person Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission, created by the Governor, began work on October 31, 2012. Since that time, it has held numerous deliberating sessions and five public hearings across Vermont; made site visits to natural gas, biomass, solar and wind energy sites; and much more.

Specifically, the charge of the Commission is to provide the Governor and the Legislature “a written report by April 30, 2013 regarding best practices for the siting approval of electric generation projects and for public participation and representation in the siting process.”

VNRC was among a group of organizations that strongly urged the creation of the commission and recently filedcomments on its draft recommendations.

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North Springfield Biomass Hearings End

Technical hearings recently ended before the Public Service Board over a proposed biomass energy plant in North Springfield.  VNRC intervened to represent our organization and the National Wildlife Federation.

Winstanley Enterprises has proposed building a 35 megawatt, wood fired plant in the North Springfield Industrial Park. The plant would produce primarily electricity, but also some heat energy as well.  The plant would require up to 450,000 tons of wood to produce electricity. About two-thirds of the wood would come from Vermont forests.

During the hearings earlier this month, VNRC attorneys explored whether wood harvesting and procurement policies would be adequate to protect forest health. VNRC recently participated in a three year legislative process to develop recommended wood procurement policies for new woody biomass facilities. The North Springfield project would only implement many of the recommended policies on voluntary basis, raising questions about whether this approach is rigorous enough to support long-term forest productivity and wildlife habitat.

During the hearings, VNRC also questioned whether the plant will operate in an efficient manner and result in a beneficial carbon impact.  Whether the project will achieve these results has been the subject of much debate. Legal briefs are due soon.

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BioFinder: A New Tool Worth A Look

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources recently released BioFinder, an interactive, online map of Vermont’s aquatic and terrestrial resources, and is demonstrating the tool for groups around the state.

BioFinder utilizes 21 data sets, ranging from rare species ranges to riparian connectivity areas, to inform a ‘contribution to biodiversity’ ranking.

BioFinder, and the data it is based on, helps identify and prioritize the most ecological and biologically diverse and connected areas throughout Vermont. BioFinder marks a substantial step forward in the mapping and analyzing of Vermont’s natural resources, and hopefully will play an important role, informing conservation, resource protection, and legislative efforts in coming years.

Explore BioFinder.

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