WRC NEWSLETTER                                                February 2017
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WRC Commissioners
February 2, 6:00 pm:  
February 7, 6:00 pm:  
February 8, 2:00 pm:
February 9, 4:30 pm:
February 13, 4:30 pm:
February 13, 6:00 pm:
Westminster Public Hearing,
Westminster Town Hall

February 14, 7:00 pm
February 21, 5:30 pm:

February 27, 12:00 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.

National Endowment for the Arts
Art Works
DEADLINE: Feb 16, 2017 , July 13, 2017
DEADLINE: May 4, 2017
DEADLINE: April 13, 2017

New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
DEADLINE:  Rolling (Seed Grant) 
For more information click here.
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans 
& Grants
DEADLINE:  Ongoing (contact USDA office)
For more information click here.
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
DEADLINE:  Rolling
DEADLINE: March 6, 2017 
Vermont Agency of Transportation
DEADLINE:  March 17, 2017
Vermont Arts Council
DEADLINE:  May 1, 2017
Vermont Community Foundation
DEADLINE:  Rolling
Small and Inspiring
DEADLINE:  April 5, 
August 2, October 18, 2017

Innovations and Collaborations
DEADLINE: July 18 2017
For more information click here.

Windham Foundation
DEADLINE:  Feb 15, May 16, & August 17, 2017      
For more information click here.
Upcoming Grants will  be a regular column in the  WRC Newsletter, for  a complete 
list please  click here

For additional  information about  grant possibilities  for your projects  please contact Susan at 
GIS Help Documents on WRC's Web Site

The GIS page on the WRC's web site has been updated with several help documents.  These include, among others, a quick to ANR's Flood Ready Atlas (a great source for information on river corridors and floodplains), and the Power Point presentation used by staff in Natural Resource Atlas trainings.  Check it out here.
Windham Region Towns Embark Upon Municipal Planning Grants
Four region towns submitted successful applications for 2017 Municipal Planning Grants. The funded towns and topics are: Brattleboro to conduct a downtown parking study; Jamaica for a Town Plan update, including flood resiliency, revitalization of the historic village centers of Jamaica and Rawsonville, and village infrastructure improvements; Putney to revise Flood Hazard Regulations and propose new development standards and review procedures for newly designated River Corridors ; and Vernon to update the Town Plan in the wake of the Vermont Yankee closure, addressing Designated Area, e.g., Village Center, community development and flood resilience planning.
Backyard Woods Program
Residents of Windsor and Windham Counties

Do you own less than 25 acres in Windsor and Windham Counties? Do you want to become a more active steward of your woods?

The Backyard Woods Program is a six-week online course that uses a combination of videos, webinars, discussion forums, and weekly activities to guide you in the exploration of your backyard woods.  Learn more about the Backyard Woods Program!
Executive Director

Associate Director

Office Manager

Finance Manager

Senior Planner



Senior Planner

Transportation Planner

From WRC Commissioner to Commissioner of Housing and Community  Development 

One of the WRC's own town-appointed Commissioners has been appointed  by Governor Phil Scott to serve as the Commissioner of Housing and  Community Development!  Congratulations to Katie Buckley, former WRC  Commissioner from the Town of Guilford.  Among other things, Katie has served as the  Guilford Town Administrator and housing director at the Windham &  Windsor Housing Trust, and brings with her deep understanding of how  both towns and regional commissions work and work with one another.
Hinsdale-Brattleboro Bridge Project 

An important step is being taken towards the development of a new Hinsdale/Brattleboro bridge.  The Hinsdale/Brattleboro Project Advisory Committee was held February 1st to review the project's status including its purpose, need, preferred alternative, programming schedule and cost. The Public Involvement Plan was also  discussed. 
The Hinsdale/Brattleboro Bridge Project (#12210C) calls for replacing the existing route 119 bridges crossing the Connecticut River between downtown Brattleboro, Vermont and Hinsdale, New Hampshire. This bridge replacement project aims to provide a safe, functionally efficient, and cost-effective Route 119 transportation corridor across the Connecticut River in the vicinity of downtown Brattleboro, VT and Hinsdale, NH, and to preserve the socio-economic and environmental resources associated with the transportation corridor.

The project team consists of a Project Lead Team and a Project Advisory Committee.  The Project Lead Team, whose role it is to facilitate the process, is lead by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) and includes representatives from the NHDOT, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), as well as regional partners, the Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC), and the Windham Regional Commission (WRC).
The Project Advisory Committee, whose role is to advise the Project Lead Team, includes representatives from Vermont and New Hampshire Legislature and regional Transportation Committees, Hinsdale and Brattleboro Administrators, Officials, and Selectboard Members, local citizens and representatives from area social services, emergency services, and interest groups.
Planning for the Hinsdale/Brattleboro Bridge Project began in the early 1990's. In 1998, purpose and need statements and a preferred alternative (Alternative F) were approved for the project. In 2012 correspondence between  the Hinsdale Selectmen and the Brattleboro Selectboard continued support for the preferred alternative (F) from both communities.
Alternative F would functionally replace both existing Route 119 bridges with a single bridge, to be located approximately 1,000 feet south of the existing Route 119 western bridge and form a T-intersection with VT Route 142. The new bridge is to be a steel I-beam girder bridge with aesthetic enhancements and a sidewalk on the upstream side. The existing Route 119 bridges would remain open during the project, maintaining two lanes of traffic at all times during construction. After construction, the existing Route 119 bridges could be rehabilitated for pedestrian and bicycle usage and closed to motor vehicle traffic.
At this time the Hinsdale/Brattleboro Bridge project has completed the Selected Alternative / Final Environmental Documentation phase and is entering the Final Design phase. As part of the Final Design phase a formal Public Hearing will be held to secure approval for the project's layout. The project is listed in the current, approved NHDOT 10-Year Transportation Improvement Plan dated June 24, 2016 for construction beginning in 2019 with a total cost, including Vermont's share, of approximately $45 million.
The WRC will provide periodic updates of meetings and other project milestones. Please click here for the project webpage.
Vermont Better Road Grant Program - Opportunity to Help Towns be Proactive on Water Quality and Prepare for Municipal Roads General Permit in Development
Vermont Better Road Grant is a program for municipalities that provides funds for planning and erosion control projects that improve water quality and reduce maintenance costs. Applications are available NOW and due by 5pm Friday March 17,  2017.  The Better Roads Grant program is beginning the 20th year of funding to support projects on municipal roads that improve water quality and result in cost saving maintenance.  The grant funds are provided by the Vermont Agency of Transportation and are subject to availability.
Vermont's Clean Water Act requires the development of the Municipal Roads General Permit (MRGP), which directly addresses the issue of sediment erosion from our town roads. This Permit will 'include bringing road drainage systems up to basic maintenance standards, and additional corrective measures to reduce erosion as necessary to meet water quality restoration goals.
Throughout the fall and winter of 2016, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Municipal Roads Program has been refining the requirements of the MRGP, and the permit has been drafted. It is anticipated that by the end of 2017 the final version of this Permit will be issued, and towns can then apply for MRGP coverage by July 2018.
The MRGP will require all towns to complete a road erosion inventory to inform an implementation plan. These inventories can be conducted before the release of the general permit and we encourage towns to get them done now to avoid the rush.  Better Roads Grant funding is currently available to municipalities to conduct the road erosion inventories necessary for the permit. Towns may also apply for funding from this program for individual construction projects to correct erosion problems identified by the inventory.  Contact the WRC for more information.
The WRC has already been working with some of our region's towns to proactively complete their road erosion inventories (see the WRC's December 2016 newsletter for article about this work). Bravo to the town of Weston who received a Better Roads Grant and worked with the WRC to get their road erosion inventory completed last summer. Well done to the towns of Stratton, Westminster, Halifax, Townshend, Windham, and Grafton who have already secured Better Roads Grants to complete inventories this summer. 

For more details about the MRGP, visit the DEC Municipal Roads Program website.
For more information about other aspects of Act 64, please see the WRC's Water Quality page.
For more information on the Better Roads Grant Program  contact WRC Transportation Planner Erica Roper at roper@windhamregional.org .
Watershed Collaboratives Pick-up Momentum
The Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative was a 2015-2016 partnership project organized by the WRC, and was funded in part by the High Meadows Fund, a grant-making group that "promotes vibrant communities and a healthy natural environment while encouraging long term economic vitality in Vermont." This collaborative created a lasting community group that is supporting and contributing to a greater watershed identity. And through the WRC's involvement with partners including the Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District, they've been able to host community and educational events including invasive species removal work parties, buffer plantings along riparian zones, hydrology demonstrations at a permanent installation of a flume-table, and on-going work on conservation easements. In 2017, they are slated to apply for more grant opportunities to continue these successful watershed resiliency projects.

O n the heels of this work in the Saxtons River watershed, the WRC is excited and optimistic about the importance of establishing watershed coalitions within the region. Additionally, the High Meadows Fund was so enthused about the wide-ranging successes of their previously-funded watershed projects around the state that they recently announced a second round of funding.
So, the WRC is collaborating with local artists and arts non-profits, educators, watershed groups, and local landowners to develop a Green River watershed collaborative that will include the towns of Marlboro, Halifax, and Guilford. This long-term project is in its infancy, but the partners are excited about the opportunity to intersect environmental planning, creative place-making, and educational outreach in these communities to promote a lasting watershed identity that, in the long-term, contributes overall to communal and ecological resiliency.

The core project partners, including the WRC, will be attending the 2017 Leahy Summit at the ECHO Center in Burlington to put their heads together and develop the programmatic elements of this collaborative. In the meantime, WRC staff is applying for funding through various grants that support ecological resilience, community development, place-making, and the arts in those Green River communities.

We hope that this on-going watershed work will strengthen the WRC's ability to support more of these collaborative's in the future in the rest of the region, and are looking forward to exploring how place-based meaning and people/place connections can help inform sustainable natural resources policy and planning overall.
Making Sure Rural America Isn't Left Behind
Investment in infrastructure was a key element of both party platforms during the 2016 election, and it continues to be a top priority for the new Administration and Congress.  At the request of Congressman Peter Welch, we surveyed our towns about their current public infrastructure investment priorities to inform his conversation with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on infrastructure policy that meets the needs of rural America.  The turnaround time on the requested information was tight, but we still received reports from 12 of our 27 towns.   Their needs are dominated by transportation infrastructure, especially bridges and culverts, but also include water and sewer, broadband, and investment in public buildings.  The total cost of these town needs comes to approximately $81.2 million dollars.  Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation industrial infrastructure needs total $4 million.  VTrans projects in our region total $136.5 million.  Together, this partial summary of needs comes to approximately $222 million dollars.  And these are projects that could be implemented over the next 5 years.
Congressman Welch met with regional planning commission directors on Friday, January 27 th to get our perspective on how federal infrastructure investment could better meet rural community needs.  There is some concern that the private investment strategy that's been posited could put rural America at a disadvantage as it would likely focus on places with higher demand (i.e., more people and greater density).  It was a good, substantive discussion, and he asked us to get back to him with the case he should make to his colleagues; a proverbial "elevator speech."  I've offered the following to get our discussion started.
  • Local priorities: Focus on the existing backlog of infrastructure needs that rural communities have identified as necessary for their continued well-being and growth.  While funding can come through states, it must come with a mandate that funding be for and used by local governments.  There can be a separate pool of funding for state needs.
  • Innovation and Flexibility: Rural communities are hot beds of innovation. Solutions should fit the community rather than make the community fit the solution. Empower communities to develop solutions that meet their needs as well as health and environmental standards.
  • Program Accessibility:  Rural communities need grants, not loans, and program matches should be based upon community means.  Program administration should hold communities accountable for use of federal funding without unduly burdensome reporting requirements that exceed rural community administrative capacities.
These are my initial thoughts coming out of that conversation.  I'd like to hear your ideas.  The need for investment in our infrastructure - both green and gray - has broad support by citizens and elected officials alike.  We should be encouraged that our Federal delegation is making sure the infrastructure needs of rural America are not forgotten. 
Windham Regional Commission 
139 Main Street, Suite 505
Brattleboro, VT 05301
Phone: (802) 257-4547
Fax: (802) 254-6383