ANR Updating Wetlands Mapping
Friday, October 21, 2022
by: Matt Musgrave
Section: Advocacy News
Over the next few weeks Vermonts Agency of Natural Resources will be travelling around the state for public comment on updates to their wetlands rules. The dates and locations are listed below. AGC/VTs lobbying team has taken some time to research and more further understand the changes proposed and how it may impact construction projects going forward. The rule changes are reported to be a technical correction to their public facing mapping and some changes to two specific wetlands.
Currently Vermonters can visit ANRs Wetland Inventory Map and zoom in on their property to see whether any portion is recognized as a wetland. These areas of wetlands had previously been identified using different methods and the maps have been helpful to property owners. Over the years definitions of wetlands and tools used to identify them have changed and the map has not yet been updated with the information.
The AGC/VT lobbying team reached out to Laura Lapierre, Wetlands Coordinator for ANR to discuss any potential impacts on contractors. Lapierre explained that after the changes over the years with definitions and identification that the map had not yet been updated with current information. She stated that although a part of land may not be identified in the state map, that during engineering or inspection of the property actual written definitions may apply to parts of parcels that the map doesn’t currently show. Simply put, if an area of land is recognized legally by the department and is not currently on the map it is still required to be treated as a wetland or face consequences of enforcement by the state. Lapierre said that the map updates will help identify those areas that are not currently represented.
The maps will be updated with both known and identified wetlands but that LIDAR mapping (aerial radar mapping) and other techniques will be used. While generally understood to be accurate contractors and property owners may be faced with areas that are identified as wetlands on the map, but an engineer or wetland expert may disagree is actually defined correctly. In this event it will be the responsibility of the property owner to appeal to ANR using data showing the area to be free of wetlands to move forward.
The rule change would also amend the reclassification of Ward's Marsh and Eshqua Bog as Class I wetlands from Class 2. These properties are already recognized as parks or conserved land, but the classification change will change setback requirements from 50 feet to 100 feet for each as well as some other protections.
If you have any concerns or would like to learn more about the rulemaking process please attend one of the public hearings:
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking comment on the proposed revisions to the Vermont Wetland Rules at series of Public Hearings this October-November. You may participate in person or virtually through Microsoft Teams.
- October 31st at 5pm: Welcome Center 51 Depot Square, Suite 100, St. Johnsbury, VT. Register to participate virtually.
November 1st at 5pm: Damon Hall 1 Quechee Rd, Hartland VT. Register to participate virtually.
- November 2nd at 5:30pm: RRPC Conference Room, 3rd Floor, 67 Merchants Row (Opera House), Rutland, VT. Register to participate virtually.
- November 4th at 5:00pm: 120 First Street, Swanton, VT. Register to participate virtually.
Comments may also be submitted in writing by November 12th, 2022 to Laura Lapierre, Wetlands Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org