Tactical Basin Planning subgrants to Regional Planning Commission and Natural Resource Conservation District improve coordination.

With support from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC), the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) and the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District (WNRCD) are better coordinating their efforts to both improve the Tactical Basin Plan (TBP) development process as well as promote improved water quality. Both the CCRPC and the WNRCD (like other RPCs and NRCDs around the state) are designated sub-grantees of VTDEC to assist their Watershed Coordinators (Basin Planners) with outreach regarding development of Tactical Basin Plans. In particular, CCRPC and WNRCD are working to make sure that the perspective and priorities of municipalities and key private landowners, respectively are considered during Plan development (the Basin 5 Northern Lake Champlain Direct Drainages Plan) and Plan implementation (Basin 8, the Winooski River).

In past years, the CCRPC and the WNRCD, while certainly familiar with each other’s work, nonetheless did not have a formal process for coordination of their efforts. By and large, RPCs assist municipalities while NRCDs assist private landowners. Recently, however, due to participation in the Basin Planning steering committee discussions organized by DEC Basin Planners, the CCRPC and WNRCD are communicating more frequently. Not only does this avoid duplication of efforts and potential confusion among target audiences, it also occasionally leads to joint endeavors where their respective capacities and skills can come to the fore. For example, the WNRCD had long been concerned about erosion problems at a large culvert on Texas Hill Road in Huntington but had been unable to make significant progress in scoping potential solutions due to a lack of funding. In 2019, however, WNRCD made CCRPC aware of the concerns and CCRPC was able to hire one of its engineering firms on retainer to conduct a preliminary scoping and identify some possible approaches for both culvert replacement and riparian erosion mitigation which WNRCD is now exploring further.

The WNRCD is also now a member of CCRPC’s Clean Water Advisory Committee. Through participation at these monthly meetings, WNRCD is well positioned to keep abreast of water quality concerns in all of Chittenden County’s municipalities. In turn, these municipalities will have better knowledge of WNRCD’s efforts and therefore areas of potential collaboration.

Six people stand, conferring, in a brown grassy field next to a watercourse in winter
Gianna Petito of the Winooski NRCD at right confers with staff of the State of Vermont, the Town of Huntington and Watershed Consulting Associates at a site visit to Texas Hill Road. Photo by Dan Albrecht, CCRPC.