'Champ' license plate proposal would benefit clean water

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) There could be a lot more Champ sightings in the near future. A proposal coming in the Vermont Legislature would create a special license plate featuring the legendary lake monster. Proceeds from the plate would go to the state's clean water fund.

It may be the first time in history that Champ, the lake monster of folklore, will appear in legislation. But Rep. Dylan Giambatista thinks Champ is the perfect character to help the state tackle it's clean water challenges.

"In the bill, Champ means the popularized lake monster believed to inhabit Lake Champlain," Giambatista, D-Essex Junction. He says his constituents are concerned about clean water, so he started thinking of ways to raise money to pay for clean up efforts. He's drafted legislation to create a Champ plate and is hoping his colleagues will help him pass it. "For me, it involves thinking out of the box about how are we gonna fund our challenges. One way we could do it is to offer a license plate. I would call it a 'Be a Champ' water license plate."

He says his plan will raise some money, but also awareness -- both are needed. The state is under an EPA mandate to improve its waterways and must raise about $20 million a year to fund it.

"We need to look in a lot of different places and look forward to discussing this idea further with the representative," said Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore.

The bill creates a conservation plate -- several styles already exist that feature deer and loon. But Giambatista says it could also be a special issue plate. like the Vermont Strong ones issued after Tropical Storm Irene that helped raise a million dollars for recovery efforts.

"We would want to put Champ on it because we want folks to be a water champ and to focus the conversation about water quality in this state. We gotta go to what people know, so let's start with a beloved figure like Champ. Let's get the conversation started and let's raise money for a good cause," Giambatista said.

Moore says it will take lots of creative thinking to achieve the state's clean water goals. "I think this is a great example of creative thinking and exactly the types of thinking we need to have an all-in approach," she said.