Act 250 Modernization
Vermont’s landmark land-use law, Act 250, has shaped the land and communities of our state — from historic compact community centers surrounded by working lands, to important natural areas that support outdoor recreation, wildlife, clean air and water. Starting in 2017, a legislative commission worked for two years to evaluate options for improving Act 250 as it approached its 50th anniversary. That commission was followed by two more years of legislative review of proposals to update the law to better meet today’s challenges — climate change, forest fragmentation, water quality, and equity among them. Comprehensive legislation moved through the Vermont House last year, but once the pandemic struck, only a narrow package focused on forest protections and recreational trails passed the Senate — and, unfortunately, was vetoed by Gov. Scott.
Updating and improving Act 250 is important unfinished business that must be addressed to help Vermont move forward. The envi- ronmental community is focused this year on supporting policies that have been thoroughly reviewed over the last several years and have significant legislative support. These policies include protecting intact forest blocks to prevent forest fragmentation; improving protections for river corridors; enacting provisions that directly address climate change; address planning in Act 250; and better incorporate diversity and equity principles into the law.