Vt. forests are linked to clean water
The Addison Independent’s recent article on the revised water quality rules for forestry in Vermont was an excellent one. The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation was quoted as stating that the recent tweaks were designed to give landowners and loggers flexibility “to get the job done.” The forest industry reiterated its continued commitment to getting the job of conserving water quality done in Vermont.
This is good news but there is much more work to do. For example, when Tropical Storm Irene visited southern Vermont it scoured tons of sediment off the forested mountains there and deposited the associated muck in adjacent lakes, rivers and streams. At Camp Plymouth State Park alone over 35,000 yards of sediment were deposited from the 3500-acre Buffalo Brook watershed.
That watershed is primarily forested and publicly-held but the Acceptable Management Practices did not stand up to the test for a host of reasons including lack of full compliance and too many roads and trails built in places where they should not have been.
Incidentally and not surprisingly, there were not any reports of AMP violations during that storm event. Folks apparently had much more pressing issues on their plates! The fact is that the climate is changing. We have too many roads built at too steep grades in too many places. Vermont’s forestry must change to keep up.
For starters, high quality water and flood attenuation must be given much higher priority in Vermont’s forestry community. Water quality and flood resilience should become Vermont’s premier forest product. The Department’s small tweaks are simply not up to that task.