Environmentalists take on logging, Montpelier pipes bursting, concerning survey for Barre schools, and more

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MAN VERSUS NATURE: Vermont continues to struggle to balance its rural identity and economic development. As the latest example, environmentalists are suing over plans to deforest.

Over the recent week, environmentalists are upset at the extent of logging operations, Montpelier’s old water pipes are failing fast, and a new survey reveals public discontent with Barre’s pre-K-12 school district.

Trees vs. economy

The environmental group Standing Trees is suing the state over logging at Camel’s Hump State Forest. Current plans include cutting down 3,800 acres of forest over the next decade and a half.

The group wants a moratorium on logging in all state parks and forests, and its leaders argue that the benefits of leaving the trees alone include increased carbon sequestration, cleaner water, protected wildlife habitat, and more.

According to the lawsuit, a public rulemaking process for logging on these lands should have been required because more than 25 people petitioned for it, but this apparently never occurred.

Currently, about 78% of Vermont is forested, of which 20% is publicly owned and 80% is private. According to an Agency of Natural Resources, loggers harvest about 1.4 million cords of timber each year, but “nearly double that every year” grows back.

Montpelier needs new pipes

The city of Montpelier has been struggling with its aging water pipes, more so than most cities of similar size. The city recently had to commit at least $200,000 for water pipe upgrades just on School Street alone on the north side of town.

City leaders are uncertain whether it’s the city’s aging infrastructure or the exceptionally high water pressure that is the main culprit for the high rate of pipe failures. The high pressure is apparently related to the system’s design, including that the water runs downhill from a reservoir in Berlin.

According to the American Society for Civil Engineers, Vermont’s infrastructure grade in 2019 was a ‘C’. The report states some troubling finds including what will be the cost to taxpayers to get it back on track.

“In 2016, a leak detection service surveyed approximately 257 miles of pipe across 32 systems and identified 117 leaks,” it states. “An estimated 963,720 gallons per day of drinking water was being lost through these leaks. The EPA estimates that Vermont’s drinking water infrastructure will need $642.9 million over the next 20 years.”

Special meeting in Barre concerning budget survey

According to a budget survey put out by the Barre School administration, the public is not happy with the direction of the school and there could be yet more friction to come between the community and frustrated school leadership.

The Times Argus reported that the comments received “offer an unflattering critique of Barre’s pre-K-12 school district, some apocalyptic predictions about its future and fresh fuel for divisions on the board and in the community,”

One of the comments from the survey suggested that the high costs to run the school continue to drive tensions.

“We have board members actively fighting against progress in our schools, including against passing budgets,” a disgruntled respondent stated.

There’s already been much tension in city board meetings in recent months, especially concerning the activities of its newly formed equity committee, which has taken public criticisms for its alleged attempts to silence opposition opinions.

Vermont’s Internet overpriced/underperforming?

Compared to other states, Vermont lags behind in its efforts to provide affordable Internet. A company called Surfshark released its “Internet Value Index,” and Vermont ranks poorly among the 50 states, especially compared to its Northeast neighbors.

The index is determined by considering both the performance and the price of online services available. According to the release, the study reveals disparities continue between what’s available to those in the cities versus the countryside.

Agneska Sablovskaja, lead researcher at Surfshark, is quoted in a release and offers some perspective on how rural states lag in this area.

“However, 3 out of 4 rural states are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting fair internet prices, further isolating them from the opportunities that wealthier and more urban states have,” Sablovskaja said.

Federal agreement on health care pricing

Vermont’s current contract concerning Medicare payments is to continue for at least another year after a new multi-state agreement was made with the federal government.

Jenney Samuelson, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services, wrote in a letter to the Green Mountain Care Board, “Without the extension, Vermont risks returning to Medicare fee-for-service which would be disruptive to long-term health care reform work and could potentially result in the loss of critical Medicare investments in the Blueprint for Health and Support and Services at Home [SASH].”

Part of the policy goal is to shift payments going from customers to health care providers from the traditional pay-per-visit model to the outcomes of the care provided.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

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5 thoughts on “Environmentalists take on logging, Montpelier pipes bursting, concerning survey for Barre schools, and more

  1. Welp, let me give these people a dose of reality.

    Go take a look at what a skidder costs today and imagine what a logger has out in loans to do this job.
    If you want to destroy this industry, then I sure hope these people are going to forgive the loggers debt just exactly the same way they want to forgive the college students debt on their scam degrees.

    These are the same paid activists that are destroying the fishing industry and every other industry they can get their claws into.

    If the college students can demand that the scam degrees debt is forgiven,
    If the blacks want reparations,
    Then lets start forgiving the debt on all the businesses and industries that these extremists are destroying- they are largely white owned and it looks like racism to me.
    It looks like fraud to me too..
    We can play this game also.

    And then lets learn something from the energy sector– that is getting screwed over too.. which we are paying dearly for at the pump..
    When Vermont has a serious forest fire problem just like California does– which Will Happen– then don’t complain about that folks!!
    I heard an interview from a man that studies this forest fire situation and he said that New England IS going to start having this same thing going on.
    There are old growth pine forests down in NJ that have not had a good cleaning out since the 60s and this pine forests is a tinder box- and this is but one area..
    This is a nationwide issue.. not maintaining our forests properly- thanks to these lunatics.

    It’s long past the time to run our states with brains and not feelings.

  2. The problem here is that the extremists in organizations like Standing Trees and others who often have undue influence the Progressive and Democratic parties are attempting to address world problems with inappropriate Vermont actions.

    Vermont forests are part of northern forests which are both productive and renewable. Vermont forests and the overall environment including many speieces do better when propertly managed than simply left on their own. Vermont forest harvesting is highly regulated and those in the timber industry, be they foresters or loggers, well trained. Each county has a forester to which viloations can be reported.

    Those concerned with the environmental impact of inproper forest practices would do well to focus their eneegy and attention on areas in the world where truly destructive practices are taking place.

  3. Wait, the environmental group Standing Trees is calling out loggers? You mean they don’t have a problem when they mow down trees and habitats on the mountains to install turbines and towers? They don’t have a problem with fields plastered with solar panels (constructed of non-biodegradable materials) that do not generate enough energy, negatively impacts food and resource production, wildlife habitat, drinking water, and messes up our picturesque scenery? When the woke take over – everything turns to dung – we haven’t even begun to see the full fallout of their ignorance and corruption.

  4. Wrong: “The group wants a moratorium on logging in all state parks and forests, and its leaders argue that the benefits of leaving the trees alone include increased carbon sequestration, cleaner water, protected wildlife habitat, and more.” Good forestry plans even call for clear cuts to improve the biodiversity of the forest. And while old trees individually sequester more carbon, young forests sequester more carbon than old forests. This not about the environment. This is about anti free market protesters looking to protest somewhere about something.

  5. It is no coincidence that every issue outlined above is directly linked to government (in)action and interference. The more government tries to ‘help’, the larger the original problem becomes.

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