EPA Providing More Than $230,000 to Vermont for Wetlands Projects
MONTPELIER, Vt. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced more than $230,000 in grants to the state of Vermont for state-led programs and projects that will protect, manage and restore wetlands across the state. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) received $190,944 in grants and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department received $45,000. EPA expects to award a second round of these grants in the same amounts later this year.
The funds were provided through EPA's Wetland Program Development Grant program, which enables state, local and tribal governments to conduct a range of projects that promote research and pollution reduction efforts related to wetlands. In 2019, EPA awarded $1,323,000 in Wetland Program Development Grant funds across the six New England states.
"Wetlands provide a range of important benefits to ecosystems and local communities across New England, including critical habitat for various species of wildlife and natural buffers against flooding," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "These grants exemplify EPA's commitment to helping our state and local partners further their wetlands research and protection programs that will have lasting impacts for decades to come."
"Protecting wetlands provides two essential services for our communities, enhancing community resilience by absorbing and slowing floodwaters and improving the water quality of our lakes and rivers by retaining sediment and nutrients. We are grateful for the EPA's partnership and funding to assist our efforts in the Otter Creek Basin which is an important ecological resource and home to thousands of Vermonters," said Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Emily Boedecker.
Everett Marshall with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department said that "the EPA funding will allow for the identification of wetlands with significant ecological features that deserve a higher level of protection through the Vermont Wetland Rules."
Information on the funded projects:
Vermont DEC received funding for projects on mapping the wetlands of the Otter Creek Basin and work to restore wetlands and strengthen the state's understanding of wetland protections and conditions.
The mapping project will result in improved wetland mapping for the State of Vermont in Addison and Rutland Counties. The Otter Creek sub-basin suffers from phosphorus pollution stemming primarily from agriculture and understanding the spatial extent of wetlands in the basin is crucial to managing water quality. The main tasks are to produce high resolution mapping of the Otter Creek sub-basin, review the accuracy of the mapping, and create outreach materials for local municipalities. The updated maps will be used to improve conservation and restoration models in the Lake Champlain basin.
The wetlands restoration project will improve the quality and quantity of Vermont wetlands by increasing wetland restoration efforts and their success on previous disturbed sites. The work will focus on seeking wetland restoration sites with the highest potential for phosphorus removal.
Efforts to strengthen the state's understanding of wetland protections and wetland conditions will advance the science of wetland monitoring and assess the condition of Vermont's wetlands at a local and national scale. Vermont DEC will complete intensive ecological and water quality monitoring assessments of sites and specific basins and conduct a national aquatic wetland resource survey. The work involves statewide monitoring of wetland water quality, flora, soils, functions, and spatial extent on a basin by basin basis; and evaluating wetland restoration activities to document before and after functions and characteristics of sites to inform future efforts.
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department received funding to inventory, monitor and map rare, threatened and endangered wetland plant and natural communities in Vermont. This project will improve the protection of rare plants and significant natural communities through the Vermont wetland rules by integrating a rare plant and natural community inventory, conducting monitoring and sharing data with the Vermont wetlands program.
For more information on the Wetland Program Development Grants, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetland-program-development-grants-and-epa-wetlands-grant-coordinators.