Understanding Vermont’s Community Resilience and Biodiversity Protection Act

If you’re a homeowner or home builder in Vermont, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the “Community Resilience and Biodiversity Protection Act” (CRBPA) proposed by the Senate. This legislation aims to address the loss of biodiversity and promote community resilience by conserving and managing natural resources. Here’s what you need to know:

A Quick Overview: The Purpose and Goals

The CRBPA, also known as the “Community Resilience and Biodiversity Protection Act,” is designed to urgently address the need for safeguarding biodiversity and enhancing community resilience in the face of environmental challenges.

Discovering the Key Findings

The act opens with crucial findings that underscore the significance of biodiversity, the impact of human activities on the environment, and the necessity of conservation strategies to counteract these effects. It acknowledges the grave threat to biodiversity, the transformation of Earth’s surface due to human intervention, and the far-reaching consequences of shifts in nature’s drivers.

The Vision for Conservation: Goals and Strategies

The state envisions maintaining a balanced landscape that supports biodiversity, climate resilience, working farms and forests, and recreational opportunities. The ultimate goal is to conserve 30% of Vermont’s total land area by 2030 and 50% by 2050. This conservation effort will encompass a mix of ecological reserve areas, biodiversity conservation areas, and natural resource management areas, each serving unique ecological purposes.

Taking Stock: Conserved Land Inventory

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, in collaboration with the Secretary, will create an inventory of conserved land and conservation policies. This inventory will serve as the foundation for achieving conservation goals and will undergo review by relevant committees. It will encompass multiple facets, such as assessing conservation categories, quantifying conserved land, summarizing conservation practices, and evaluating funding sources.

What It Means for Homeowners and Home Builders

  • Land Use Planning: The CRBPA highlights the importance of maintaining ecological functions and connectivity in landscapes. This emphasis may influence land use planning and development decisions for homeowners and builders.
  • Conservation and Stewardship: Homeowners with large properties may consider engaging in conservation efforts to protect ecological functions and contribute to the state’s conservation goals. This could involve collaborating with authorities to implement sustainable land management practices.
  • Land Transfer and Development: The act’s focus on a functional landscape could impact land transfer trends and development plans. Builders should align projects with conservation goals for responsible and sustainable development.
  • Awareness of Policies: Staying informed about the progress of the CRBPA and potential regulations or policies is essential for homeowners and builders.
  • Equity Considerations: Recognizing historical disparities in land access, the act urges consideration of equitable access to land-based opportunities for historically marginalized communities.

Creating a Comprehensive Conservation Plan

  • Plan Development: By December 31, 2025, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, in partnership with the Secretary, will craft a comprehensive plan aligned with the goals of Vermont Conservation Design. This plan will be subject to review by relevant committees.
    • Inclusions: The plan will feature:
    • Strategies to achieve objectives while conserving agricultural land, working forests, historic properties, recreational lands, and surface waters.
    • Specific methods guided by Vermont Conservation Design to realize the chapter’s vision.
    • Recommendations for equitable access to conserved lands and land-based activities.
    • Suggestions for aligning with existing investments while furthering conservation missions.
  • Engaging Stakeholders: Public input is sought through a minimum of 12 public meetings, engaging a variety of stakeholders. At least three of these meetings will involve the general public.
  • Monitoring Progress: The conserved land inventory will be updated biennially to track progress toward the chapter’s vision and goals.

Allocating Resources: Appropriations

  • Public Education and Outreach: $75,000 from the General Fund in fiscal year 2024 will support informing the development of the statewide conservation plan.
  • Supporting Plan Creation: Additionally, $150,000 from the General Fund in fiscal year 2024 will fund a limited-service position within the Agency of Natural Resources to aid in creating the statewide conservation plan.

Effective Date and Conclusion

The CRBPA will come into effect on July 1, 2023. It’s essential for homeowners, builders, and stakeholders to collaborate with local authorities, conservation organizations, and communities to grasp how this legislation may influence their properties, development plans, and the broader goals of biodiversity conservation and community resilience.

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