February 2019 E-News: Updates from VNRC

February 2019 E-News

Catch up below with VNRC’s latest news, and learn about opportunities to help us protect Vermont’s environment and communities.

We hope to see you at Vermont Conservation Voters’ Environmental Common Agenda Reception at the State House this afternoon!


  • Environmental Common Agenda Reception — TODAY at 3-5pm, VCV will release its 2019 Environmental Common Agenda of legislative priorities in the Cedar Creek Room at the State House. The Agenda highlights this year’s most pressing environmental issues. Plus, we’ll honor Rep. David Deen for his many years of work on behalf of Vermont’s natural resources. More info below.
  • Climate Action Plan for 2019 —  As part of a coalition of 25 advocacy organizations, VNRC outlined a platform of policy priorities for Vermont legislators to advance in 2019 on climate change. View the platform here and learn more at http://vnrc.org/actonclimatevt/ and below. 
  • Modernizing Act 250 — VNRC has begun testifying at the State House on key areas for improvement. Read more below.
  • Don’t Miss Out on Our Weekly Climate Dispatch — In brief Facebook Live videos on Fridays, we summarize what’s happening each week in the State House on climate and clean energy. Plus, we share easy ways you can help ensure that policymakers act on this critical issue. Sign up here to receive the Climate Dispatch in your inbox so you never miss an episode.
  • Welcome, Matt Lacey! — Matt joined VNRC in January as our Mollie Beattie intern, focusing on forest, wetlands, and wildlife policy. Learn about him below.


  • FEBRUARY 20: VNRC Co-sponsors E.O. Wilson’s Half-Earth Project in Vermont — Join us at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier for a free workshop on preserving biodiversity, inspired by the visionary Half-Earth methodology of naturalist E.O. Wilson, with a particular focus on the Winooski Watershed. Learn more and RSVP here.
  • SAVE THE DATE: Wild & Scenic Film Festival — On April 4, VNRC and Patagonia will co-host our 11th annual film showcase celebrating some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and the communities rising up to protect them. We’ll have locally-sourced food, Zero Gravity beer and wine, raffle prizes from our sponsors, and a fantastic silent auction. Stay tuned for reservation info!
  • Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 Arthur Gibb Award — Do you know someone who has what it takes to be our 2019 honoree? Applications are due on March 29. Find the nomination form here.
  • Small Grants for Smart Growth — Our latest Small Grant awardee is the Vermont River Conservancy. VRC will use its grant for a Feasibility Study & Conceptual Design of Confluence River Park, where the North Branch and main stem of the Winooski rivers join in downtown Montpelier. Learn more about Small Grants here.
  • New Grant Opportunity from Regional Forest Economy Partnership  In January, Gov. Phil Scott and Sen. Patrick Leahy announced a $7 million grant program to spur new economic opportunities in communities struggling to overcome the decline in the forest products industry. It’s the first grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to be open to all counties in Vermont. The first round of deadlines is March 15. Learn more here.


  • Vermont’s Lack of Progress on Reducing Emissions — “Inertia is a powerful thing, but we’re going to need to break through it,” said Johanna Miller, Energy and Climate Action Program Director at VNRC. “[Vermont] is falling behind and the time to act is short.” Don’t miss our words in The Boston Globe.
  • Time for an Act 250 Upgrade — The Rutland Herald/Times Argus editorialized on the need for Act 250 modernizations, pointing to VNRC’s recommendations for improving our state’s landmark legislation.
  • Snowmobilers Feel the Effects of Climate Change — The number of days with more than an inch of snow in Vermont has dropped from 130 in 1960 to 75 today, reports VPR, drawing from a UVM study on declining conditions for snowmobilers. Check it out.
  • Why Can’t Rich People Save Winter? — The winter sports community includes some of the nation’s most affluent and influential citizens. So the New York Times wonders: why isn’t the “snow lobby” more passionate about stalling climate change, given its threat to what they love to do?

Find more detail on select topics below. As always, we welcome your feedback and support.

Brian Shupe
Executive Director, VNRC

TODAY: 2019 Environmental Common Agenda Reception

Each year, Vermont Conservation Voters publishes the Vermont Environmental Common Agenda of legislative priorities. The Agenda is collectively shaped by a range of environmental organizations across Vermont working on matters affecting our shared natural resources, public health, and the character of our communities. Our top environmental priorities for 2019 revolve around:

  • Implementing climate solutions
  • Establishing a long-term clean water funding source
  • Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals in drinking water and consumer products
  • Modernizing Act 250 to better address 21st Century environmental challenges
  • & more.

Read the 2019 Common Agenda here and learn more about our top priorities. Plus, join us this afternoon at the State House in the Cedar Creek Room from 3-5pm as we publicly release the Common Agenda.

We’ll also celebrate the legacy of  Representative David Deen, recipient of the 2019 VCV Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be presented at 3:30pm.

25 Advocacy Groups Develop Climate Action Plan for 2019

As part of a coalition of 25 advocacy organizations, VNRC and VCV outlined a platform of policy priorities for Vermont legislators to advance on climate change in 2019. We urged action on several of Gov. Scott’s Climate Action Commission’s recommendations and other policies to help meet Vermont’s statutory greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Doubling the number of low- and moderate-income homes weatherized every year
  • Creating an electric vehicle incentive program, prioritizing low- and middle-income Vermonters, using VW settlement dollars
  • Joining other New England states in requiring progress on our climate commitments

View the platform here and learn more at http://vnrc.org/actonclimatevt/

Testimony Begins on Modernizing Act 250

The House Natural Resources Committee has begun taking testimony on a draft bill put forth by the Commission on Act 250: The Next 50 Years. Last week, our executive director Brian Shupe weighed in on VNRC’s top priorities for the next 50 years of Vermont’s signature environment review law. This week, the conversation continues with several VNRC staff members and others testifying on promoting development in smart growth locations, and on how we might thoughtfully consider development on our natural and working lands. We’ll keep you posted with further updates on the modernization process.

Welcome, Matt Lacey 

Matt Lacey came on board as VNRC’s Mollie Beattie intern in January. In this role, he assists with forest, wetlands, and wildlife policy research, and tracks legislation at the State House. After graduating last spring from Virginia Tech with a degree in Wildlife Conservation, Matt spent his summer working as a technician on a mule deer and elk ecology research project in Wyoming. He moved to Vermont in the fall to pursue an interest in wildlife policy, and instantly fell in love with the Green Mountain State. We’re happy to have Matt on the VNRC team!