Conservation Commission

Duties

The Waitsfield Conservation Commission was formed in 2003 by an affirmative vote on Article 9 at the 2003 Annual Meeting.  Originally comprised of five members, an affirmative vote on Article 11 at the 2007 Annual Meeting increased the number to nine.  According to 24 V.S.A. Section 4505, the Waitsfield Conservation Commission is authorized to undertake the following:

(1) make an inventory and conduct continuing studies of the natural resources of the municipality including but not limited to:

  • air, surface and ground waters, and pollution thereof;
  • soils and their capabilities;
  • mineral and other earth resources;
  • streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and floodplains;
  • unique or fragile biologic sites;
  • scenic and recreational resources;
  • plant and animal life, especially the rare and endangered species;
  • prime agricultural and forest land, and other open lands;

(2) make and maintain an inventory of lands within the municipality which have historic, educational, cultural, scientific, architectural, or archaeological values in which the public has an interest;

(3) recommend to the legislative body of the municipality the purchase or the receipt of gifts of land or rights thereto, or other property, for the purposes of this chapter;

(4) receive appropriations for operating expenses including clerical help by appropriation through the budget of the legislative body;

(5) receive money, grants or private gifts from any source, for the purposes of this chapter. Grants and gifts received by the trustee of public funds shall be carried in a conservation fund from year to year to be expended only for purposes of this chapter;

(6) receive gifts of land or other property for the purposes of this chapter, by consent of the legislative body or by the affirmative vote of the municipality;

(7) administer the lands, properties and other rights which have been acquired by the municipality for the purposes of this chapter;

(8) assist the local planning commission or zoning board of adjustment or the district environmental commission, by providing advisory environmental evaluations where pertinent to applications made to those bodies, for permits for development;

(9) cooperate with the local legislative body, planning commission, zoning board of adjustment, road committee or other municipal or private organizations on matters affecting the local environment or the natural resources of the municipality;

(10) prepare, collect, publish, advertise and distribute relevant books, maps and other documents and maintain communication with similar organizations; and encourage through educational activities the public understanding of local natural resources and conservation needs;

(11) make a brief annual report to the municipality of its finances and transactions for the year just passed, and its plans and prospects for the ensuing year.

In addition, the Town outlined the following specific duties:

  • To work closely with the Mad River Valley Planning District, the Mad River Watershed Conservation Partnership, and the Vermont Land Trust and other organizations with land conservation goals and objectives consistent with those of the Conservation Commission and the Waitsfield Town Plan;
  • To be guided first by the goals and objectives in the Waitsfield Town Plan in the course of making recommendations on land conservation projects;
  • To use the Mad River Valley Rural Resource Protection Plan and analytical models where appropriate;
  • To be responsible for stewarding land owned by the Town for conservation or preservation purposes; and
  • To oversee conservation easements that have been granted to the Town.
Photo: David Garten
Photo: David Garten

Members and Terms

Conservation Commission members are appointed by the Selectboard for two-year terms.  In 2007, the number of members was increased from five to nine. The terms of the four new members were staggered between one and two years so not to have more than five terms expring in any one year.

In appointing new members, the Selectboard will be interested in idividuals with experience in areas such as forestry, real estate, agriculture, planning and land conservation, and others with a strong working knowledge of Waitsfield's land and history.

Meetings

The Conservation Commission meets on the 4th Thursdays of each month, 7:00 PM, at the Waitsfield Town Office.