WRC Releases Report on Undeveloped Waters in SE Vermont
Windham Regional Commission (WRC) has just released the report “Undeveloped Waters in Southeastern Vermont.” It is the result of several years of work by Commission staff to identify and characterize the nature of the undeveloped rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds in the southern portion of the Windham Region and a small area in the adjacent Bennington County Region. Undeveloped refers to the state of the land adjoining these water bodies.
Forty lakes and ponds, with shoreline totaling nearly 100 miles, and over 1,400 miles of rivers and streams, were analyzed. What did we find?
- It should come as no surprise that in the more densely populated southeastern Windham County, few undeveloped waters are found, and many tend to be smaller, and potentially intermittent, headwater streams.
- Southwestern Windham County, and especially southeastern Bennington County, with fewer people and large tracts of undeveloped land, have many more undeveloped waters. The Green Mountain National Forest and the conserved electric utility lands along the Deerfield River contain substantial areas of undeveloped rivers and lakes, and their undeveloped status is fairly secure.
- Less secure are those undeveloped waters in the central part of the study area. Here, fewer conserved lands and, in many cases, an absence of strong town plan policies, might leave development in the riparian and lacustrine buffers unchecked.
This work was done by analyzing spatial (map) data using Geographic Information System (GIS) software to identify and characterize undeveloped waters. This was carried out to aid in the preservation of these riparian and lacustrine buffer areas in order to support maintaining water quality, habitat values, and societal benefits. Funding for this project was provided through Section 604(b) of the Federal Clean Water Act, administered by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, with work carried out in 2010 and 2012.
The WRC recognizes the value of these undeveloped waters in providing a variety of important environmental and societal benefits and the need for their protection. Given the important values of undeveloped buffers and the dwindling extent of them, it is important for stakeholders to work to protect those that remain. The information in the report is useful to municipalities, landowners, and conservation groups to inform planning for the protection of these resources, and development and implementation of effective regulatory protective measures.