Natural Resources


ACRPC’s Natural Resource EffortsThe region’s natural resources are essential to its people, economy, and environment. They influence the cultural, social, economic, and environmental landscape of the region and offer economic value, scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. Natural resources are essential to the high quality of life enjoyed by residents of the area and must be appropriately utilized, respected, managed, enhanced, and preserved to ensure the future vitality of the region and its inhabitants. The regional commission has adopted natural resource goals and policies in its Regional Plan to enhance communication and collaboration among resource users in pursuit of healthy and vibrant communities.We collaborate with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources scientists, private professionals and community groups to develop plans and guidelines for resource use. We assist our member municipalities with inventory, monitoring and analysis of resources. Regionwide information on water quality, agricultural soils, wetlands, wildlife habitat and forest resources are maintained for public use.Lake Champlain Restoration / TMDLExcess phosphorous from a various natural and human-induced sources has impaired the water quality of Lake Champlain. The US EPA is collaborating with VT DEC and other Vermont agencies on a plan to reduce phosphorous loadings by developing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). This TMDL places a cap on the maximum amount of phosphorous that is allowed to enter the Lake and still meet Vermont’s water quality standards.

Watershed Planning

A watershed or basin is the land that water flows across or under on its way to a stream, river, or lake. The landscape is made up of many interconnected watersheds that can be defined at varying scales. Nearly all of Addison County falls within the Otter Creek Basin, which drains to Lake Champlain. There are also several watersheds in the region that drain directly to Lake Champlain. The watershed planning process emphasizes voluntary actions to solve identified problems and seeks to maximize public participation and involvement in local decision- making and action. The primary function of the watershed planning process is to bring communities together to identify, protect, and restore water quality conditions on a geographical basis.

The Addison County Regional Planning Commission participates in a variety of initiatives with towns and individual landowners to improve and protect water quality. ACRPC’s current watershed activities include:

  • Supporting local watershed groups (such as Addison County River Watch Collaborative and the Lewis Creek Association) through administration, grant writing, and technical assistance.
  • Working on behalf of the region’s citizens to assist the State of Vermont’s Basin Planning efforts. This is primarily done by participating in and contributing to the Otter Creek Basin Planning Process.
  • Conducting Geomorphic Assessments throughout the Lower Otter Creek Watershed.
  • Helping communities develop River Corridor Management Plans.
  • Assisting towns in creating overlays of erosion hazards along river corridors. These overlays are a zoning tool that can aid river corridor protection and help improve water quality.
  • Providing education and outreach to towns regarding the water quality and financial benefits of well designed and maintained roads, bridges, culverts, and ditches.

Go to the Addison County River Watch Collaborative page.

There are several useful websites on the subject of Stormwater Management and Low Impact Development (LID):

For more information about any of these initiatives, or if you would like assistance with other watershed related projects, please contact Kevin Behm.

ACRPC has produced a Shoreline Condition Map for Lake Dunmore, which is available here.

Low Impact Development (LID) and Stormwater Management

Low Impact Development is based on reducing the impervious surfaces that generate stormwater flows and treating those flows at their source, instead of piping them away. Most Addison County towns have not implemented this technology in a major way. Since the 1990s, however, research has found that it is both economical and effective toallow precipitation to infiltrate into the ground, using small, localized elements such as rain gardens, bioswales, porous pavement, and green roofs.. Although there are some sites where water infiltration is not advisable, such as around landfills and leaking underground storage tanks; for the most part, water infiltration mimics natural hydrology and is healthier for the watershed.

Click here for LID poster illustrating low-impact development techniques for slowing down stormwater, including green roofs, rain gardens and barrels, pervious pavement, and bioswales.

Forest Stewardship

Addison County’s forests provide a wide range of services that support the region economically, environmentally, and socially. Our forests are a source of raw materials that support traditional forest products industries, such as hardwood veneer, lumber, pulpwood, fuelwood, chipwood and maple syrup. Our forests provide clean water, clean air, and plant and wildlife habitat as well as carbon storage. Our forests are renowned for the recreational opportunities, artistic inspiration, and pleasing views they offer. These natural resources should be used and maintained in ways that will not compromise their future integrity, or that of the region, its residents, and visitors.

Many of the services the forest provides, such as wildlife habitat, air quality protection, water quality protection, and flood storage and protection, are not as easily seen, understood, or quantified as the economic and social benefits provided by forests. However, these “ecosystem services” are vitally important. Forest management and planning initiatives should strive to conserve native biological diversity and maintain ecological functions while providing economic benefits.

The following link will open a new tab containing information on Act 171. Act 171 amended Vermont Planning Statutes to encourage and allow municipalities to address protection of forest blocks and habitat connectors, while also supporting the local forest products industry. After January 1, 2018, municipalities seeking to have their plans approved by their Regional Planning Commission must include additional information on the future land use map and language that identifies state, regional or locally significant forest blocks and habitat connectors. The plan may also include specific policies on how the community will take steps to reduce forest fragmentation, enhance forest health, and support essential ecological functions.

Addison County Regional Planning Commission | 14 Seminary Street Middlebury, VT 05753 | 802.388.3141 |

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