December 6, 6:00 pm:
December 14, 2:00 pm:
December 20, 5:30 pm:
**All Committee Meetings take place in the WRC Conference Room unless otherwise noted.
**All meetings are subject to change, please check the website for updates.
UPCOMING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
National Endowment for the Arts
DEADLINE: Feb 16, 2017
New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
DEADLINE: Rolling (Seed Grant)
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans
DEADLINE: Ongoing (contact USDA office)
Vermont Community Development Program
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Vermont Community Foundation
DEADLINE: Feb 15, May 16, & August 17, 2017
Upcoming Grants will
be a regular column in the
WRC Newsletter, for
for your projects
please contact Susan at
RiverSmart Communities Report Available
The RiverSmart Communities program at UMass Amherst has released a report "Supporting New England Communities to Become RiverSmart: Policies and Programs That Can Help New England Towns Thrive Despite River Floods." The result of work with numerous partners in MA and VT, the report combines social and river science, institutional and policy research, and community outreach to research and address river floods in New England.
Its purpose is to facilitate river management that can restore the environmental integrity of rivers while ensuring that New England communities thrive in a world where floods naturally occur. The report is available here
For further information, contact John Bennett at (802) 257-4547 ext 110 or b
WRC Welcomes New Staff Members!
Emily Davis comes to the Windham Regional Commission with a scientific understanding of the environment combined with a holistic approach to problem-solving, and is passionate about community sustainability. Holding a MS in Ecological Design and a BS in Environmental Geochemistry, she has also earned certificates in the Sustainable Design/Build field. Both professionally and as part of her degree programs, she has experience in landscape design, master planning, watershed planning, and ecological design.
She lives with her husband and dog at their off-grid homestead in Brattleboro; and is a lover of rock climbing, tacos, and chocolate.
Erica Roper started on November 28th as a transportation planner at the WRC. Erica became interested in multi-modal transportation systems while pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Design and Urban Studies University of Massachusetts Amherst where she graduated magna cum laude in 2010. After completing her undergraduate studies, Erica worked as the Junior Project Manager for the engineering division of the Department of Traffic, Parking and Transportation for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Erica completed her Masters in Sustainability Management from Columbia University in 2013 and continues to pursue her Masters of Regional Planning part time at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While pursuing her Master in Sustainability Management Erica worked at HR&A Advisors Inc. a Real Estate, Economic Development, consulting firm where she supported innovative transportation, open space, and climate resiliency projects. Erica believes that learning is a lifelong process and is passionate about building more physically, economically, socially sustainable, and climate resilient transportation systems and communities. Erica is familiar with the Windham region through her experience as a social and ritual dancer in the area including Contra, Tango, Morris and Rapper dancing and is excited to learn more about this unique region.
State's Lidar Program Offers Highly Precise Elevation Data for Windham County
Much of Windham County is about to get the most
detailed, accurate, and comprehensive elevation data the area has ever had. These data, generated from lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, will give most towns in Windham County elevation data with an accuracy of 10 meters, and contours at 1-foot intervals.
Lidar will provide a picture of the Earth's surface with 20 times more detail than we currently have available. It will allow us to see the lay of the land like we've never seen it before. Things like old roads and stream corridors, often obscured by trees on traditional air photos, can be seen on lidar imagery. Minor changes in elevation, not represented on our current 20-foot contour interval topographic maps, are readily apparent.
The Windham Region towns of Readsboro, Stratton and Winhall already have lidar data, though not at quite as high a resolution. Still, the 20 cm accuracy and 2 foot contours for these towns are impressive. Most all other towns in the region, with the exception of those in the northwest corner, can expect the new, higher detailed data within a month or two. Data for the northwestern corner were collected in November 2016 and should be released within a year.
For a gallery of lidar images of Readsboro, Stratton, and Winhall, click
. Remember, the new Windham County data will be twice as detailed, and we'll post some images from this new data set when it becomes available.
Vermont Municipal Flood Guide Now Available
The Windham Regional Commission (WRC), in partnership with Deerfield Watershed Creating Resilient Communities and the University of Massachusetts
, has put together a resource document entitled
Municipal Guidance for Flood Emergencies in Vermont
. This document is meant to assist all types of Vermont town officials, boards, staff, volunteers and others, with considerations and resources related to flooding disasters.
shares actions and steps to be taken by each role at each stage: from proactive and smart advance preparations, to advance preparations to do when a major storm is forecast, and on to actions to be taken during the storm, as well as during recovery. This comprehensive guide is meant to be an
that is kept both electronically and in hard copy with your Local Emergency Operations Plan. Numerous state and federal agencies had input into the creation of the
. Our goal is that towns will share this guide both internally and with their neighboring towns, to foster resiliency throughout Vermont.
WRC Staff Begin Road Erosion Inventories
In October, work began in Weston and Stratton to help towns come into compliance with Act 64, Vermont's Clean Water Act. WRC staff Jeff Nugent and Emily Davis identified road erosion locations that would impact water quality, and road segments that would not meet new road standards being developed under Act 64. The results will be used by towns to prioritize improvements to mitigate road erosion issues specifically relating to water quality. VTrans's Better Roads program provides funding for both inventory efforts and road and infrastructure improvements.
To begin, GIS analysis was done by VT Agency of Natural Resources that identifies "hydrologically-connected" road segments. These segments are considered connected to surface waters if they intersect, or are within 100-feet of, a pond, perennial or intermittent stream, or wetland.
In the field, Jeff and Emily verified that these road segments are actually hydrologically-connected, then mapped any locations within the roadway that show signs of erosion or any other potential impacts on water quality.
In Weston, the team inventoried 14.3 miles of paved and unpaved road, and identified 180 erosion locations in the right-of-way (many of which were minor). They also assessed the condition of over 170 culverts, and identified those that are undersized.
In Stratton, the team has nearly completed their inventory, but unfortunately couldn't finish before the snow fell. Of the work so far, 9.8 miles of road were inventoried, and 127 distinct erosion points were identified. They also inventoried the condition of 82 culverts.
The road erosion inventory field work will resume in spring 2017 with the completion of Stratton. Townshend's inventory is slated to be finished in spring/summer 2017, along with Grafton, Windham, Westminster, and Halifax. Other towns interested in this inventory work are encouraged to apply for Better Roads funding.
Solicitation of Towns to Participate in Town Energy Planning Element Pilot
Letters of interest should be submitted to the WRC by
Wednesday, January 11th.
The WRC has received funding to assist three region towns with the development of town plan energy elements that are consistent with the provisions of Act 174, which establishes new regional and town energy planning
for those towns that want their plan to be given "substantial deference" in renewable energy siting proceedings before the Vermont Public Service Board. But this is also a great opportunity for towns that are interested in blazing the trail for comprehensive energy planning at the town level in Vermont! We don't yet know the level of interest there is among our towns to be part of this process, but the following is a brief discussion of what the WRC is looking for in candidates to participate in what is effectively a pilot town comprehensive energy planning process.
We want to remind everyone that developing a town plan energy element that is consistent with the provisions of Act 174 is not mandatory; it's a town's choice to do so.
It's an optional approach to town energy planning beyond that which towns already do as part of their normal town plan development process. As for timing, the pilot towns will complete the development of their energy elements before the regional energy planning effort is completed and the regional energy element is formally adopted. This means that if a pilot town chooses to pursue a determination of compliance with the provisions of Act 174 in order to be given substantial deference in a Public Service Board renewable energy project application process, the town will need to have its plan reviewed for determination of consistency with state energy policy by the Public Service Department rather than the WRC, because the regional plan will not be formally in place until at least January, 2018.
Here's what we're looking for from the towns that we would assist as part of this pilot effort:
Commitment to comprehensive energy planning.
While planning for the siting of renewable energy projects has garnered the most attention and interest, this planning process is much broader and deeper than addressing only siting issues. The towns we assist must be committed to: understanding how energy is consumed in the town across sectors and how this relates to the town's land use policies; what steps the town will take to reduce energy consumption, transition away from non-renewable energy consumption, and move towards the adoption of renewable energy; what renewable energy development is appropriate within the town, and where and how it can best be developed; and the town policy basis for all of the above. The goal is to amend your current town plan to incorporate this energy element.
Participating as one of the three pilot towns has been discussed within the town, especially between the planning commission and Selectboard (along with the town's energy committee, if you have one), and there's agreement that going through this process is something that would be good for the town at this time.
The WRC plays the role of facilitator and technical assistance provider when we assist towns with their planning efforts. The hard work is up to the town. It is the town that deliberates and makes the decisions, including what town policies should be. Please consider whether or not the town is in a place where it is capable of having a robust conversation about all aspects of energy, and whether or not this process will bring the town together rather than divide it.
Willingness to collaborate with other towns in training and education.
While WRC staff will meet with towns on a one on one basis in the development of their individual energy elements, we expect the three pilot towns to meet and work together on educating themselves, with our assistance, about the substance and process of comprehensive energy planning. We want the three towns to work together as a peer group as much as possible, and it is our hope that this initial group of three will be willing to share what they learn with the towns that follow in their footsteps.
Recognition that this is a pilot effort.
While energy planning is not new to the WRC and not new to most of our towns, we'll be working together to meet new energy planning standards established under Act 174, and we will be diving deeper into a broad spectrum of energy issues including use, efficiency, conservation, and generation. These standards are new, the process is new, data we'll be working with is new, and we'll be working with new leadership within the Department of Public Service. This will be a shared learning experience that will benefit from patience.
We are seeking letters of interest from towns that would like to be one of the three towns chosen for this pilot effort. Letters should explain what the town seeks to achieve through this comprehensive energy planning effort and indicate that the four conditions listed above are acceptable and desirable.
Letters of interest should be submitted Marion Major at the address below or by
by Wednesday, January 11
. Please call Marion with any questions at 802-257-4547 x109.