April 2020 E-Newsletter from VNRC
A Note from our Executive Director
When we sent our last e-newsletter, the COVID-19 crisis had not yet gripped our nation. It’s hard to believe how much has changed — and how much hasn’t.
Though the coronavirus has us working remotely, and taking care of our families and supporting our communities, VNRC staff are still hard at work to confront the many challenges facing Vermont. To support these efforts, we are thrilled to have just hired Karina Dailey as our new Ecological Restoration Coordinator.
We’ve been encouraged and inspired by how Vermonters are supporting each other during these challenging times. From “little free libraries” that now hold food donations, to the flourishing of mutual aid networks, there are so many reasons why I’m extremely grateful to be riding out the storm in this great state.
Thank you, as always, for your support,
— NEW Vermont Environmental Report — Our new issue is out! You might have received a print copy of the VER in your mailbox. Climate Change Solutions: Clean Energy and Beyond explores the myriad ways to address the climate crisis, from preserving our forests to transforming our transportation system. Find it here.
— Welcome, Karina Dailey! — Dailey will be joining VNRC as our new Ecological Restoration Coordinator, responsible for running VNRC’s dam removal program and contributing her scientific knowledge and expertise to policy issues around the conservation and restoration of Vermont’s natural resources. Welcome, Karina!
— VNRC joins advocates urging Gov. Scott to uphold environmental protections — We thanked Governor Phil Scott for his efforts to address the unprecedented COVID-19 emergency and urged him to uphold environmental and public health protections during — and after — the crisis, along with public accessibility and transparency. Find the letter (and more context) here.
— VNRC weighs in on project in Green Mountain National Forest — We submitted comments to the Forest Service about a 71,000-acre project on the southern half of the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) called the Somerset Integrated Resource Project. Find our comments here.
— Two-time VNRC grantee Rich Earth Institute completes report on Village Sanitation Pilot Study — The report explores the feasibility of composting and urine diverting toilet systems in helping to address village wastewater challenges. Learn more here about Rich Earth Institute’s fantastic work, and how we’re involved.
— Welcome, Kail Romanoff — Kail has been helping out as our Legislative Intern over the past several weeks, even as things at the State House have been in flux. Thanks, Kail, for all your work!
— Remembering Harvey Carter — VNRC was saddened by the recent death of Harvey Carter, an attorney, politician, conservationist, and preservationist who represented VNRC in critical legal cases over the years. Carter was also instrumental in shaping the final version of Act 250. Find his obituary here.
Upcoming webinars — and an outdoor opportunity, too!
—4/9: Introducing the VNRC Lunch Series — Beginning this Thursday, April 9, VNRC will present a webinar every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. We’ll address topics ranging from forest health to climate change to Act 250. First up: Keeping our Forests and Wildlife Habitats Intact. And stay tuned for a two-part webinar: What’s going on with Act 250? Further details to come.
—TONIGHT, 4/7: Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Vermont small businesses –Tonight at 5pm, VPIRG’s Maeve Power will facilitate a conversation on the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses with Morgan Nichols of Vermont Main Street Alliance and Matt Birong, state legislator representing Addison-3 and owner of 3 Squares Cafe in Vergennes. Register here.
—4/8 and 4/15: Legislative updates — Join the Sierra Club of Vermont tomorrow, April 8 at 7pm for an update on climate legislation with Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas from the Climate Solutions Caucus, and on Wednesday, April 15 at 7pm with Commissioner of DEC Peter Walke about the Transportation and Climate Initiative.
—4/14: Regenerative agriculture for the home gardener — OnTuesday, April 14, learn how to build soil health and sequester carbon while growing your own food, with 350Vermont and Cat Buxton from the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition. Register here.
—Daily: Who’s Up for Coffee? — Join Bob “The Green Guy” Farnham for a daily morning conversation about clean energy, climate change, and everything in between. Access the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/BobTheGreenGuy/.
—Nightly: Socially-distant amphibian finding — We told you in the last e-news that the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas needs documentation of certain species that might be in your neighborhood. Turns out this is a great activity to do with your family when you can’t do much else! Learn more here.
—STAY TUNED!: Wild and Scenic Film Festival — We’ll be offering a virtual film-viewing opportunity focused on inclusive access to our public lands. More details to come. While you’re waiting, check out Wild and Scenic’s Films for Social Distancing, a collection of fan favorites from past years that you can watch now.
Awards and grants
— 2020 Arthur Gibb Nominations — We extended the nomination deadline until this Friday, April 10. VNRC’s annual Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership honors people working on the challenge of integrating growth and conservation. Click here for the application and a list of past awardees.
— Small Grants for Smart Growth — Do you have a smart growth project that could use some funding? Learn more about VNRC’s Small Grants for Smart Growth and apply today. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
— AVCC’s 2020 Tiny Grants — Are you part of a conservation commission in need of some funding for a local project? Check out the Tiny Grants program from the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions (AVCC). Applications are due on May 1 (extended from April 10).
— Grassroots Fund Seed Grants — The Grassroots Fund has a COVID-19 rapid response fund for community groups who are offering urgent responses to the crisis. Eligible groups must have 2 or fewer full-time staff. Apply for a Seed Grant here.
Learn more about select topics below!
Introducing the latest Vermont Environmental Report
Among so many other things, the climate crisishas been ravaging the planet, and adversely affecting Vermont’s environment and communities, for decades.
As the years pass, it’s increasingly clear that addressing climate change requires going far beyond the obvious solutions around clean energy and electrification. It requires significant improvements in our transportation system and how we manage our forests, farms, and waterways — and recognizing that how we deal with land use can either equip us for the future or lead us into further distress. Our new VER explores this and more.
Webinars: VNRC’s Lunch Series
Beginning this Thursday, April 9, VNRC will present a webinar every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. We’ll address topics ranging from forest health to climate change to Act 250.
First up: Keeping our Forests and Wildlife Habitats Intact, with Jamey Fidel (Forest and Wildlife Program Director at VNRC) and Jens Hawkins-Hilke (Conservation Planning Biologist at Vermont Fish & Wildlife).
Learn how Vermont’s wildlife is being affected by development and other pressures that impact the viability of species. Jamey and Jens will discuss the importance of maintaining intact and connected forests for wildlife health and community resilience alike.
Plus: Find out about strategies you and your town can take to maintain intact forests and habitat, and get a status report on conservation efforts at the state level.
Stay tuned for info on future webinars.
VNRC asks Gov. Scott to uphold environmental protections during COVID-19 crisis
VNRC and Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV) were among 8 environmental and public health advocates who sent a letter yesterday to Governor Phil Scott. We thanked him for his efforts to address the unprecedented COVID-19 emergency and urged him to uphold environmental and public health protections during the crisis, along with public accessibility and transparency.
The letter comes on the heels of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recent relaxation of environmental rules designed to keep polluters in check and protect public health. Power plants, factories, and other polluters will not be required to report illegal discharges of harmful substances into the air or nearby waters during the pandemic.
Welcome, Karina Dailey!
This week we announced that Karina Dailey will be joining VNRC as our new Ecological Restoration Coordinator. In this position, she will be responsible for running VNRC’s dam removal program and contributing her scientific knowledge and expertise to policy issues around the conservation and restoration of Vermont’s waters.
Karina’s scientific background, practical experience, and personal commitment to protecting Vermont’s natural resources will be an important addition to our policy and dam removal work. We’re thrilled to have her on the team!
Extended deadline: 2020 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership
The Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership is presented annually to a Vermont resident who has made a lasting contribution to their community, region, or state in advancing smart growth policies.
Do you know someone who fits this description? Nominate them today!
Find more information and an application at https://vnrc.org/awards/. Applications are due this Friday, April 10. If you need a further extension, let us know.
Films for Social Distancing
For over a decade, VNRC has been hosting the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, with partners, in Vermont. This year, we’ll be screening the nationally-selected films virtually. Stay tuned for a date and time!
In the meantime, Wild and Scenic has provided some fan favorites from previous years to enjoy now, from home.
Check out the films here and let us know what you think. New films will be added every few days, so be sure to check back!