Vt. Housing and Conservation Board celebrates 25 years - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Housing and Conservation Board celebrates 25 years

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Workers and volunteers haul rain-slicked lumber along muddy trails in Shelburne. LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area is under conservation, and when it's a bit drier, bridges will be built over areas that are almost always muddy.

"So, that the trail can be used sustainably it won't erode the trail or degrade the area," said Tim Duclos, a volunteer coordinator with AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps helps staff the Nature Conservancy, which stewards about 40,000 acres of preserved land at 54 sites across the state. It's all possible thanks to support from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

On the trail, the aim is to keep Vermont's green spaces intact. Downtown, the goal is greener spaces and more affordable living.

The Champlain Housing Trust-- another major beneficiary of the board's-- offered a tour of all the new and improved places they've invested over the past 25 years.

"I was the first person the board hired back 25 years ago when we got going," said Gus Seelig, the executive director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

Seelig says these varying, yet interconnected projects allow service groups to work together rather than compete for grants.

"We need to have open space, we need food production, but we also need places for people to live," Seelig said.

Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin signed the board into law and existence June 11, 1987. Since then, it has received about a quarter million dollars in federal and state funds, but raised four times that from private donors. All that green gets poured back into Vermont's landscapes. But Seelig says there's still plenty to be done.

"Good opportunity to get a bunch of folks out and just get some work done," Duclos said.

And boots in the muck won't let rainy weather slow them down either.

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