Showing posts with label Conservation Advocacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conservation Advocacy. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Learn More & Do Your Part to Protect Land Conservation Funding in New Hampshire!

Please visit the Forest Society's website: http://forestsociety.org/issues/lchip/ And then call your state representatives and ask them to oppose the diversion of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) fee. Find your representatives here: www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mascoma River Nominating Committee


Under a light snowfall, we enjoyed an educational and pleasant walk led by Nicole Cormen along the Mascoma River on February 27. Nicole used an archeological assessment funded by Lebanon's Conservation Commission to point out remnants of old mills. In addition, we passed by popular fishing spots and experienced a portion of the Rail Trail. This walk was part of the Mascoma River Nominating Committee's outreach efforts.

The Mascoma River Nomination Committee will be hosting several public information sessions in Canaan, Enfield, and Lebanon during the month of April. The purpose is to inform the public of an effort to nominate the Mascoma River into the State Rivers Management and Protection Program, joining 17 other designated rivers in over 100 communities in New Hampshire. Designation would create a collaborative forum among riverfront towns to address river-related issues and help raise awareness of the river and its resources. For more information about this endeavor please visit http://www.uvlsrpc.org/MascomaRiver.html or contact Rachel Ruppel at (603) 448-1680 or rruppel@uvlsrpc.org.

In addition, we have recently posted a series of 5 articles written about the Mascoma River in 1992 by UVLT's then-Executive Director, Tim Traver.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

VHCB Funding Update: The Capital Bill is Crucial

There is strong support from the leadership in both the House and the Senate to bring the VHCB appropriation for FY2011 to $11.1 million. This is significantly less than the total of $13.1 million that VHCB is receiving in FY 2010. The idea is to approve the Governor’s recommended $6.1 million from property transfer tax (PTT) revenues in the Appropriations Bill and $5 million in the Capital Bill. The PTT amount appears to have solid support in the House Appropriations Committee and there is growing interest in the House Institutions Committee to include VHCB in the Capital Bill.

The major task is to fit the requested $5 million within the $72 million cap for capital budget expenditures, which are supported by the issuance of 20-year general revenue bonds. The presumptive cap is the working figure based upon the recommendation (non-binding but very influential) of the Capital Debt Affordability Advisory Committee, chaired by the State Treasurer, Jeb Spaulding.

VHCB is one of the significant contenders to be funded within the $72 million cap. The potential options are to increase the cap; to fund portions of other demands in other ways, e.g., pay interest on school construction grants instead of the entire amount of the grant until the state’s revenues improve; and to fund certain capital requests for a term of less than 20 years, e.g., information technology improvements.

The talking points in support of the request for $5 million in the capital bill are:
  • VHCB-supported housing and conservation investments produce a short-term economic stimulus while securing long term capital assets for the Vermont economy that will exist long after the bonds are paid off.

  • Affordable housing construction projects produce jobs, jobs and jobs. Affordable housing developments are a proven way to reduce taxpayer funded human service assistance costs.

  • Conservation projects invest in the cornerstones of our working lands economy: farming, forestry, and public access to recreation. These investments produce jobs while protecting our Vermont brand.

  • During the economic downturn in the 1990s, 80 percent of the state investment into VHCB economic development projects was from the Capital Bill. There is solid precedent for Capital Bill investment into VHCB.

  • Significant federal funds will be lost for Vermont without an adequate VHCB investment by the state.
We need your help in delivering this message. It is imperative that conservation supporters engage in a broad grassroots effort to let lawmakers know that VHCB has wide and deep support. This means phone calls, letters to the editor, opinion pieces and e-mails to your legislators.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Update on Vermont Housing & Conservation Coalition’s Legislative Day—2/24/10

Though the driving on February 24th was a bit treacherous, the Upper Valley sent several representatives to VHCC's Legislative Day in Montpelier. In the morning, we heard from leaders in both the Senate and the House of their support for affordable housing and land conservation in Vermont, but this funding has not yet been secured.

The Governor's budget includes $6.1 million of state funds for VHCB. VHCB advocates have asked for a total state investment level of $11, which would still be a 4% reduction from the level warranted by the existing state statute formula. Recognizing that state general fund dollars are in short supply, there is a lot of discussion about a multi-million dollar investment into VHCB through the Capital Bill to supplement the $6.1M property transfer tax figure.

Please contact your legislators today to voice your support of this plan. Find your VT legislators.

Voice Your Support of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board!

Below is a letter to the editor of the Journal Opinion by the Chair of Bradford’s Conservation Commission, Nancy Jones:

“In his January 7 State of the State address, Governor Jim Douglas stated that “VT’s commitment to our natural resources is unwavering. Our environmental leadership is a source of pride that sets us apart and gives us a leg-up in a green economy.” He went on to say, “That VT is the healthiest state comes as no surprise. It is our nature to be active, enjoy the outdoors and eat healthy.” But… the bulk of Governor Douglas’s speech was about spending cuts which he will present to the legislature on January 19th, and insiders fear his plan includes de-funding the VT Housing and Conservation Board.

The November/December 2009 issue of National Geographic Travel announced that Vermont was ranked 5th in the world for “destination stewardship”. In ranking destinations, 437 global panelists considered six criteria including environmental and ecological quality, social and cultural integrity, condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites, aesthetic appeal, quality of tourism management and outlook for the future.

"Vermont, more than any other American state, has worked to preserve those qualities and characteristics that make it unique," commented one panelist. “It has a very effective statewide land trust and the state-funded Affordable Housing and Land Conservation Trust that rehabilitates historic buildings, like old mills, for low-income housing, and purchases conservation easements on farmland and forests. It has limited the spread of big-box retailing and works to retain locally owned retail, such as village stores. If you want to see New England as you imagine it, go to Vermont."

Since 1987, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) has worked with Vermont municipalities and non-profit organizations to conserve more than 376,500 acres of farmland, natural areas and recreational lands and to develop more than 9,700 affordable homes, most of which are located in historic buildings in Vermont's town and village centers. Most of Bradford’s working farm land has been protected via VHCB funds, over 700 acres of public and privately-owned forest land on Wright’s MT has been preserved forever, thanks to funding from VHCB. Bradford’s revitalized South Main Street and subsequent affordable housing was made possible because of VHCB funding, while simultaneously providing a multitude of jobs that stimulated our local economy.

Governor Douglas emphasized “Fiscal responsibility, efficient government and environmental protection” in his January 7 address. In light of VHCB’s enviable track record, de-funding it would be fiscally irresponsible and inefficient, and would be devastating to the very environment that sets VT apart.

I encourage all Vermonters to ask their legislators to preserve the funding for the VT Housing and Conservation Board.” Find your VT legislators.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vermont Housing & Conservation Coalition Legislative Day

Do you know your representatives in the Vermont legislature? Can you count on them to support funding for land conservation this year in spite of the deep cuts proposed by Governor Douglas? To help you answer these questions the Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition is sponsoring it's annual "Legislative Day" at the Statehouse in Montpelier on Wednesday, February 24th. This is your best chance to get across a personal message to your representatives about why conservation is important to you and your community. Become part of the legislative process by attending legislative committee meetings and hearing from leaders of both the Vermont House and Senate. Rally with a diverse array of supporters and beneficiaries of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) and see how critical the State's investment in conservation and housing has become and how they should remain a priority through the challenges of the State's fiscal crisis.

This year the Governor has proposed slashing VHCB's budget by 50% from last year's funding level, which would potentially result in millions of federal farmland conservation dollars being returned to Washington because no state matching funds are available to draw them down into the Vermont economy. We will be asking the legislature to provide VHCB with at least 11.1 million for FY 2011, a 4.6% reduction from the level warranted by the statutory funding formula. The emphasis will be on showing legislators that investments in housing and conservation are important to economic development and represent long term capital investment for the State.

We will be organizing a carpool of volunteers to arrive at the Statehouse at 8:00am on the 24th and coordinating attendance at a variety of committee meetings. Please contact Nora (noradoyle-burr@uvlt.org), by next Tuesday, February 23, if you are willing to contact your representatives and perhaps arrange for a breakfast meeting with them to show your involvement with VHCB and ask for their support.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vermont Housing & Conservation Coalition Legislative Day

Governor Douglas has proposed significant cuts to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board budget and a one-year freeze on conservation projects. With these potential cuts in mind, please join us for:

Vermont Housing & Conservation Coalition Legislative Day
Thursday, February 26th, 6am-4pm, State House, Montpelier


Vermont's State House in Winter
photo by Marie Charboneau

Conservation can't wait! Please set aside February 26th as a day to come to Montpelier to talk and advocate on behalf of VHCB funding.

Join UVLT and its supporters on the western side of the Connecticut River as we journey to Vermont's capitol to speak out in favor of funding for new conservation projects. We'll meet at 6am at UVLT's office, 19 Buck Road, Hanover, for coffee and snacks before departing at 6:15am for Montpelier. UVLT hopes to fill a 15-seat van with staff, members, and trustees. It promises to be a fun, informative trip! UVLT will provide materials for background on the issues to be addressed. Travelers can plan to be back in Hanover by 4pm. View a draft of the day's schedule.

Find out more at http://www.uvlt.org/. Call us at (603) 643-6626 or email noradoyle-burr@uvlt.org for more information.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Conservation Can't Wait

Check out this new video put together by the Vermont Land Trust!

UVLT and its partners, including the Vermont Land Trust, VHCB and the Nature Conservancy have teamed up to demonstrate the importance of conservation to the state of Vermont. State funding for the upcoming fiscal year's conservation work in Vermont may be frozen, if Governor Douglas’s proposed 2009 budget is passed. In addition, state funding for LCHIP in New Hampshire is also at risk right now.

Ways to demonstrate your support of conservation include:

--Writing letters to the editors of your local papers

--Writing and/or calling your state legislators

For more information about the Vermont campaign to save state conservation funding, see the Conservation Can't Wait brochure, or visit the Vermont Land Trust's webpage: http://www.vlt.org/. Also see the list of UVLT properties that have been conserved with support from VHCB and the handout we used for legislative day.

Here's a recent story from the Burlington Free Press: "Housing and Conservation Cuts Challenged."