Government Shutdown Affects Lake Champlain

How The Government Shutdown Affects Lake Champlain

The recent federal government shutdown has affected millions across the country, and the impact is being felt on Lake Champlain as well. Here are some of the impacts:

Government Shutdown Affects Lake ChamplainThe EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) new phosphorus reduction budget for Lake Champlain – TMDL or Total Maximum Daily Load. (See “Cleaner Water” article) was scheduled to be released in draft form later this month, but it’s not clear that they’ll be able to do it because of the shutdown. The draft plan will likely call for additional regulations on roads, stormwater permits, agricultural lands, and floodplain development, but authority for new regulations and funding for incentives has to be approved by the Vermont legislature, which doesn’t reconvene until January. The longer the draft plan is delayed, the less time the legislature will have to review and absorb requirements set forth in it.

Fall is the time for developing budget priorities for the state and federal government. The Lake Champlain Basin Program Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) identifies priority projects for funding. However, a half-dozen members of that body are federal employees who are furloughed and unable to participate in the process during the shutdown. The absence of their valuable knowledge and experience severely limits the TAC’s ability to outline the most critical immediate next steps in managing the lake.

Although Vermont’s duck hunting season began on October 9, one of the more popular hunting locations on Lake Champlain may not be open to the public this year. The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in Franklin County Vermont has been closed as a result of the shutdown. No hunting or fishing is allowed in the refuge during the shutdown, and the Visitor Center has been shuttered.

Read the Lake Champlain Committee’s analysis of how the government shutdown affects Lake Champlain here…