Regular Meeting, Thursday, October 26, 2023, at 6:30 PM
Remote Participation ONLY
Meeting ID: 781 449 0827 Passcode: 234
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Attendees: Stephan Chait (Chair; SC), Mary Horne (Member; MH), Laurel Copeland (Clerk; LC), Lesley Pollitt (Member; LP), Tristan Roberts (guest, TR), Hayley Kolding (guest, HK), Linda Huebner (guest, LH), Penfield Chester (guest, PC), Sue Kelly (guest, SK).
CALL TO ORDER at 6:31 pm
CHANGES AND/OR ADDITIONS TO AGENDA – Propose changing agenda order to have Rep. Roberts present first.
APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES – Regular Meeting Minutes of September 28, 2023, were approved.
State Representative Tristan Roberts – the Legislative Process for Bills and How Citizens Can Have Input. Visit legislature. https://vermont.gov/committee/detail/2024/19. Here you can find out about specific legislatures and bills. To provide input on a bill, contact the members on its committee with personal communiques. Another page: https://vermont.gov/committee/detail/2024/19/#bills-in The “bill is on the wall” means it is currently in committee. The committee can vote to take it off the wall and work on it or not keep it on the wall. The committee can also vote in favor of it and send it to Ways & Means. Can be amendments at each step. Then it can be put on the House/Senate action committee for reading a second time and for consideration, debate, amendment. Ultimately if a bill is read a third time, it will usually pass.
Choose a specific bill: Each committee has livestream on YouTube, and each discussion is linked on the page. You can watch the committee discussion(s).
Who is invited to give testimony (LH)? Any committee member can propose persons to bring in. The Governor and other officials often will testify because they have a stake in it. A person can ask the committee to invite them. The committee can organize a public, 2- to 3-hour period of public comment.
How can an individual get involved in a bill (SC)? You can ask to meet with your state rep, your state senators, and a committee member. Don’t just reach out to your reps. Reach out to committee members, too. You can write them a letter with valuable information breaking down how the bill will impact you. The more personal, the better. Keep it succinct, personal, and direct.
Regarding the hounding and trapping bills, there seems to be some inertia around them and not sure why.
Have you been surprised about what your constituents care about? (MH) On the SB, a couple residents came in very upset that the cemeteries had not been mowed by Memorial Day. This was something TR had to learn was in the realm of the SB and very concerning to some citizens. As another example, a resident wanted to talk about her son who was addicted to heroin, and the only rehab available in Vermont under Medicaid was only 14 days, in contrast with Massachusetts with 21 days. He learned more about how this was working out for people, cycling through multiple times per year, so now he is working on a bill to increase the treatment time.
If you find out why there is inertia on the hounding and trapping bills, can you get back to us? (LP) Yes. Our committee has a very full agenda with the flooding damage response, as do all the committees, but if I learn something, I will get back to you.
Hayley Kolding. Conservation Manager, Southern Vermont – An Introduction to The Vermont River Conservancy. RT learned about HK in a legislative session and invited her here because he thought we would be interested in the Vermont River Conservancy. The VRC works statewide but has been only in central Vermont until recently when HK came down to focus on rivers of southern Vermont. The mission of VRC is to protect the land along Vermont’s streams and rivers. VRC has put legal protections on several locations along Vermont rivers. In Brattleboro, there is 250 Birge Street, a 12.5-acre site that was historically bermed by a lumber company. It did not flood during Irene or the recent floods, which can threaten downstream communities. VRC bought the land and is removing the artificial fill to allow the river to spread out and restore wetlands along the Whetstone Brook. The restored site will have ADA walkways and public access. Another site is the Green River Meadows in Guildford, 17.7 acres on 4,183 feet of the Green River. The citizens with VRC have been removing the former junkyard and restored the healthy floodplain. VRC will transfer ownership of the land to Green River Village Preservation Trust and continue to hold the conservation easement. Plants and beavers do much of the restoration work. VRC: conserves, does outreach, restores.
Discussion of Meeting Schedule – November and December meetings. 4th Thursday in November is Thanksgiving, so our meeting is cancelled. 4th Thursday in December is 3 days after Christmas; members were okay with keeping this meeting on the calendar.
Invasive Jumping Worms. Review of FC’s flyer will be postponed to next meeting, and the draft flyer will be circulated.
BEEC Project “Beavers in Halifax and Westminster VT”
The Stream Primeval – A Field Outing on Oct. 15 was a success, per report from Patti Smith of BEEC. Naturalist Patti Smith led a walk to explore the beaver ponds and meadows made by the beavers she studies. The walk was about a mile, round trip.
What’s next? One more field trip, Deceiving Beavers – In the Field with Skip Lisle: Sunday Oct. 29, with a rain date of Nov. 5, from 2-4 pm a trip departing from 273 Hatch School Road to hear Skip Lisle explain how his Beaver Deceiver works. Later this fall, Skip will construct a Beaver Deceiver on Jacksonville Stage Road.
OTHER BUSINESS – None.
HEARING OF VISITORS – Bonnie Brown commented on a couple of recent letters in VT Digger reporting that the director of Fish & Wildlife is retiring. Protect Our Wildlife (POW) is a primary letter-writer in this matter. Four proposals: (1) the Conservation Commission should write to the appointer (cc F&W) asking that the new director represent all Vermonters not just hunters and trappers, (2) contact all Conservation Commissions in Vermont to do the same and ask to ban leghold traps and hounding, (3) ask our reps to promote and support relevant bills, (4) because the Colorado State U survey shows that most Vermonters consider themselves “mutualists” with wildlife, reach out to orgs like BEEC asking them to take the same actions.
ADJOURNMENT at 7:40 pm.