By Chuck Ross, Secretary, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets
Earlier this month, the State of Vermont and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft plan to restore Lake Champlain, also known as the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). This is a major step forward in our work to repair the lake and ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations of Vermonters.
For too long, we have lacked the resources to adequately address the problems facing Lake Champlain. With this announcement, the administration is committing the resources needed to fulfil the promises we have made about restoring our lake.
From an Agency of Ag standpoint, we are already taking decisive action to address the most troubled areas of the Lake. We are refocusing and reprioritizing our efforts for greater impact. As an example, this summer, we have performed assessments at more than 100 farms in the most impacted areas – North Lake and the Missiqoui Bay. We are working directly with these farmers to assess their challenges, identify resources and solutions to get the work done, and hold everyone accountable.
Our success to date is in large part due to the active support of the farming community, and requires their on-going support in the future.
For the past year, I’ve talked about the key themes of this effort – “Stewardship, Partnership, and Accountability.” “Stewardship” refers to the actions we all must take to ensure we are doing our absolute best to minimize our individual impacts on the lake. For farmers, that means implementing conservations practices to reduce run-off. “Partnership” refers to the fact that we all must work together – state officials, environmentalists, farmers, property owners, and ordinary citizens – to find sustainable solutions. It’s an all in approach. And finally, “accountability” means we need to hold each other responsible for our actions by implementing a clear framework that outlines what must be done, and the consequences for non-compliance. Participation in this massive effort is not option.
These principles have lead us to this important milestone, and will continue to be critical to our success as we enter this next phase of implementation.
Thank you for your continued commitment to Stewardship, Partnership, and Accountability – and to the future of Vermont.
For more information about Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Lake Champlain Restorating Planning visit: http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/tmdl/lakechamplain.html