By Guy Page
Citing information from the United Nations, the chair of an influential Vermont House committee and the architect of the embattled Act 250 revision has sponsored a bill calling for 50% of all total land area in Vermont to be conserved from future development.
H606, “an act related to community resilience and biodiversity protection,” would “establish State goals of conserving 30 percent of the land of the State by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050.” The bill’s sole sponsor is Rep. Amy Sheldon (D-East Middlebury), chair of the House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee.
The bill will be reviewed by House Natural Resources tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 20) at 9 am, following a brief presentation about the Global Deal for Nature. This international initiative is “calling on world leaders to support a Global Deal for Nature that protects and restores half of the Earth’s lands and oceans,” its website says.
The bill cites United Nations-sourced information that a million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, humans globally are are squeezing wildlife into ever smaller areas, and that changes in land and sea use are the #1 driver of these problems.
Sheldon’s bill cites the Vermont Climate Council 2021 report and other state studies to demonstrate the need for “permanent protection from conversion of natural land cover.” The bill sets this goal: “Thirty percent of Vermont’s total land area shall be conserved by 2030, and 50 percent of the State’s total land area by 2050.”
The action plan calls for an inventory of currently preserved land, both public and private, and “an evaluation of the impact of intergenerational land transfer trends.” The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources would be tasked with producing a draft plan by July of next year.