Vt. lawmakers look to protect lakes and forests - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers look to protect lakes and forests

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A measure designed to protect shorelines is poised to become law, but another protecting forests is splintering.

Concern over the declining quality of Vermont's waterways and woods led to proposals designed to restrict development.

Wednesday, senators stripped a bill requiring public review before anyone put up a building or lay down a road in a forested area.

Outdoor groups fought the initial proposal because of concern that it might infringe on trails and other small projects. In its place, the body paved the way for a study of how forest integrity affects animal habitat.

"So we can have a full biennium to work on this very complex issue that we all have concerns with," said Sen. John Rogers, D-Essex-Orleans Counties.

"The amendment that is now before you has gutted the bill, studies always a way to basically do nothing," said Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham County.

Representatives and senators will move forward with new restrictions on lakefront property owners though. The House and Senate passed differing versions, limiting building and alterations to the shore.

"But the intent is the same and it may take a couple of meetings but I'm sure we're going to be able to reach agreement," said Rep. David Deen, D-Putney.

Last year lawmakers voted to study lakeshore land protection. Advocates for forest integrity can only hope their proposed study grows into a bill with support next year.

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