Local Work, Statewide Progress
Conservation Districts coordinate financial, technical and educational resources locally for the conservation of soil, water, and other natural resources. Vermont’s 14 Conservation Districts implement projects and programs to address key local resource concerns. VACD oversees regional and statewide programming while providing overall leadership and communications support. Together, the Conservation Districts are making critical and coordinated statewide progress toward the goal of improving water quality and conserving Vermont’s natural resources.
Land Treatment Planning & Conservation Planning
VACD Technical Staff provides technical assistance to landowners and farmers by developing land treatment plans and conservation plans to help protect Vermont’s natural resources.
Nutrient Management Planning Assistance
Conservation Districts assist Small Farm Operations (SFOs) in developing Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) with the collection of field and farm data, preparation of maps, and organization of records. Once prepared, farms enroll in the University of Vermont Extension’s winter class called, “Digging In: A Nutrient Management Class for Farmers” and write their own NMPs.
Benefits of having an NMP:
- Save money – reduce fertilizer costs and increase productivity
- Gain a better understanding of local ecosystems
- Helps your farm comply with Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs)
- Creates a more positive public image for your farm by showing your efforts to improve water quality
Small Farm Outreach
The Conservation Districts along with VACD staff are directly assisting farming operations to balance their operation with healthy waterways. In 2016, twenty VACD technical staff helped farmers plan for and implement conservation practices to improve water quality throughout Vermont and assisted farmers in accessing financial support to complete these practices.
Key Projects and Programs
Stormwater Master Planning
Rainfall in developed areas has unique effects on water quality and the hydrologic balance of a watershed. Impervious surfaces – including rooftops, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and compacting soils – increase the amount of water and pollutants entering streams that would otherwise infiltrate into the ground and reduces groundwater recharge. Conservation Districts work to identify and install Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) practices and stormwater retrofits to increase infiltration, reduce stormwater runoff, and improve water quality.
Green Stormwater Infrastructure
Conservation Districts help provide assistance to communities to develop Stormwater Master Plans (SWMPs) which identify stormwater or erosion problem areas and opportunities for improvements. Districts then coordinate the design and implementation of stormwater practices such as stormwater treatment retrofits, Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI), or erosion control practices, and provide outreach to landowners and municipalities to build awareness of the limitations and traditional grey infrastructure and importance of stormwater attenuation and treatment.
Agricultural Water Quality Assistance
Conservation Districts provide assistance to farms to balance productive farming and clean waterways. Our services include assisting farms to develop Nutrient Management Plans, providing outreach to farms on the State’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs), making referrals to connect farms to state and federal resources for financial assistance for Best Management Practices (BMPs), and providing equipment to promote Conservation Tillage practices.
Education and Outreach
Education and Outreach is a common thread across all sectors of the Conservation Districts’ services. Conservation Districts partner closely with State and Federal partners and provide opportunities for the public to learn more about statewide goals, projects, and programming.
Watershed Conservation and Restoration
Conservation Districts coordinate a wide range of watershed restoration projects to improve water quality and restore habitat, including buffer plantings on non-agricultural land, culvert replacements to restore fish passage, road erosion mitigation, stream assessments, and basin planning activities.
Trees for Streams & Lakeshore Buffering
The Conservation Districts’ signature riparian buffer program, Trees for Streams, has been active since 1999 and expanded from a program at the Lamoille County Conservation District to a key statewide program. The program focuses on installing vegetated buffers along streams to enhance riparian habitat, improve stream health and floodplain function, and protect water quality.
Similar to Tress for Streams, Lakeshore Buffering addresses natural resource concerns such as erosion, runoff, and habitat fragmentation.
Portable Skidder Bridge Rentals
Conservation Districts around the state provide Portable Skidder Bridges for rent to help protect waterways during logging operations.
Aquatic Organism Passage Restoration
The Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, and the towns of Jericho, Underhill, and Westford, work with select engineers and consultants to develop a strategy for either replacing or retrofitting culverts in an effort to make them more suitable for aquatic organism passage.
Rural Fire Protection
The Vermont Rural Fire Protection Program, formerly known as the Vermont Dry Hydrant Program, helps reduce the risk of injury, loss of life, and damage to property and natural resources in rural areas. VACD works with the Vermont Rural Fire Protection Task Force to assist local fire departments and towns in their efforts to improve the safety welfare of Vermont communities through the installation of dry hydrants. Contact Troy Dare, Rural Fire Protection Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.