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Zack Porter: To rise above the floods, protect public forests

Zack Porter: To rise above the floods, protect public forests

On July 20, 2023 Zack Porter’s commentary “To rise above the floods, protect public forests” appeared on the VTDigger.Org website.

NOTE: Zack Porter is the executive director of Standing Trees and lives in Montpelier, Vermont. Standing Trees has helped conceive and pass the Community Resilience and Biodiversity Protection Act, championed by state Rep. Amy Sheldon, D-Middlebury. Standing Trees is also part of GJEP’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program.

The commentary in its entirety can be found on the VTDigger.Org website.

The following are excepts from the commentary:

  • On July 10, 5.28 inches (nearly two months’ worth of rain) fell in Montpelier, Vermont, setting a single-day record.
  • One month prior researchers at Dartmouth and the University of Vermont published a paper predicting that extreme precipitation in the Northeast will increase more than 50% by 2100 due to climate change.
  • Even if the extreme rain is attributable to climate change, the extreme damage caused by a storm is largely a result of land-use decisions.
  • Zack Porter wrote:

“Turning the climate into a convenient scapegoat risks absolving us of our culpability in local land-management decisions that exacerbate or invite disasters, and blinds us to important steps that we can take to make our communities more resilient, whether by restoring forests and wetlands, reducing impervious surfaces, or moving vulnerable people and businesses to higher ground.”

  • Standing Trees recently sued Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources over its failure to develop binding regulations for the management of state lands, as required by law. The litigation calls out the agency’s failure to consider the recommendations of a 2015 state commissioned report that states:

“The quality of (today’s) forests is not the same as the pre-Settlement old growth forests. The legacy of early landscape development and a history of channel and floodplain modifications continue to impact water and sediment routing from the land. Landscape modifications have had the effect of increasing the connectedness of land to the river network. It is this enhanced connectivity that needs to be addressed to make our landscape more resilient to flooding and the impacts of a changing climate.”

  • Zack Porter also wrote:

“Restoring degraded ecosystems is among the most cost-effective and rapidly scalable strategies available to increase the resilience of our towns and cities, improve carbon sequestration and storage, enhance water quality, and support Vermont’s most imperiled species, from brook trout to bats. It’s a win-win-win-win.”

The commentary in its entirety can be found on the VTDigger.Org website.

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