Maine’s Shoreland Zoning Act Standards are Effective at Protecting Lakes!

A collaborative study between Vermont Department of Environmental Constervation and Maine Departent of Environmental Protection demonstrates that Maine’s Shoreland Zoning Act is effective at protecting the shoreland environment of Maine’s lakes.

Read the full Study at:  http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/lakes/docs/lp_mainezoning.pdf

Abstract

The VTDEC is tasked with ensuring that Vermont’s lakes are managed and protected in compliance with the Vermont Water Quality Standards (VWQS). The VWQS serve as the foundation for protecting all of Vermont’s surface waters, and classify each waterbody, establish uses (e.g. swimming, fishing, aquatic biota, wildlife and aquatic habitat) that must be protected, and set minimum chemical, physical and biological criteria that must be met in all of Vermont’s waters. The VWQS are intended to achieve the goals set out in Vermont’s water quality policy (10 V.S.A. Section 1250), which include the prevention of degradation of high quality waters; the prevention, abatement and control of all activities harmful to water quality; the maintenance of water quality necessary to sustain existing aquatic communities; and to seek over the long term to upgrade the quality of waters and to reduce existing risks to water quality. These goals are supported through the surface water management objectives and criteria set forth in the VWQS.

Until the studies described in this report, VTDEC had not systematically measured the impacts of lakeshore development on aquatic habitat, biota and wildlife to determine if these impacts were in conflict with the Vermont Water Quality Standards and Vermont’s water quality policy. In addition, VTDEC did not know if lakeshore development standards existed that could protect aquatic habitat, biota and wildlife consistent with the goals of the VWQS and Vermont’s water quality policy.

By studying 234 reference lakeshore sites and 151 unbuffered developed lakeshore sites on 40 lakes in Vermont, VTDEC determined that the kind of development allowed on Vermont lakes is degrading aquatic habitat and biota in conflict with the Vermont Water Quality Standards (Merrell, Howe, & Warren, 2009) and Vermont’s water quality policy. In comparison, VTDEC and MEDEP determined that at the site level the kind of development allowed on Maine lakes was not degrading aquatic habitat and biota and would protect Vermont’s waters consistent with the VWQS and Vermont’s water quality policy. This was established by studying 13 reference lakeshore sites and 36 developed sites that followed Maine’s minimum mandatory standards on 5 lakes in Maine.

This study found that Maine’s Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act standards make it possible to both develop a lakeshore and protect aquatic habitat and biota.

Read more on shoreland zoning at:  http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/lakes/docs/lp_shorelandzoningscience.pdf

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