So what exactly was the point of this Nov. 30 editorial by Representative Chesnut-Tangerman, “Pictures, poison and permits”?
Lake St. Catherine is an important segment of the economy of Wells, Poultney and Rutland County. Tourists come here to enjoy the lake and take in the natural beauty of the area every summer. Sportsmen and women have recreated here for more than a century. Families from all over the northeastern United States own second homes here and many have retired and moved to the area because of this natural wonder called Lake St. Catherine. Now there are for-sale signs in front of these properties because the weeds have taken over and people are sick of paying high taxes for lake property they cannot recreate on, and the DEC doesn’t care.
The state of Vermont and the Lake St. Catherine Association, with an annual contribution from Poultney taxpayers, pump a lot of money into the current aquatic herbicide system used on “the big lake St. Catherine,” but that isn’t working, either. When the president of the Lake St. Catherine Association was asked when the get-well-date was for the end of their aquatic nuisance problem, the answer was “Never.” The taxpayers and association members have been pumping tens of thousands of dollars worth of aquatic herbicides into this lake every year, and it will never solve the problem. Are we funding the chemical companies and a few local contractors in perpetuity for a non-fix to a real problem? It appears so.
The “little” Lake Sr. Catherine Conservation Fund (LSCCF) is using part of a system that is proven to work in other areas of the country. They have installed and maintained this system and the town of Wells taxpayers have helped fund their efforts. You can go on the boat with David Emmons and see the results. But the Department of Environmental Conservation has denied their request to extend their permit to continue the aeration system. So why are the briefings to the Natural Resources-Fish & Wildlife committee, the Scott administration and the DEC yielding no results?
If the DEC reviewed the facts and listened to the scientists (they offered to come to Vermont to brief them), they would see that aeration has been used in more than a few projects; it has been studied, tested, peer reviewed and published. It has the backing of science and scientists who say that their system is the way forward. So why does aeration present an unacceptable risk? They refuse to acknowledge this science and allow the LSCCF to continue this proven technique.
Legislators came to see and hear the pleas of this locally funded, volunteer organization, but they sit idly by as the DEC says, sorry, this isn’t the way forward and we will not approve your permit application. But, they will continue to fund, with our tax dollars, a system that pumps poison into our lake and is acknowledged to not fix the problem.
While I applaud Representative Chesnut-Tangerman’s efforts to pen this oped about the LSCCF’s lake restoration efforts, I would ask him: isn’t there more you could do that would really move the needle? Maybe he could use his position on the Energy and Technology Committee to help LSCCF more forward? We would all benefit if he did. He has done nothing to help fix the problem; he merely writes an oped that does nothing. The taxpayers and voters of his district expect and deserve more from him.
We are wasting time!
Terry Williams lives in Poultney.