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Board supports natural-resources funding

PUTNEY—During the final days of the calendar year, when town officials put together the next fiscal year’s budget for consideration at March’s Town Meeting, representatives from different nonprofit and social-service groups lobby selectboards to get funding through municipal taxes.

This year, the Putney Selectboard unanimously agreed to put two natural-resources-related items on next year’s town budget.

At Town Meeting, voters will see a $650 line item for the Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance to support their water quality monitoring. The nonprofit Alliance routinely tests brooks and rivers in the county — often in or near popular recreation spots — for E. coli and other bacteria and pollutants and makes these reports available to the public.

Ann Kerrey, chair of the town’s conservation commission, spoke in favor of funding the Alliance. She said the organization works with town officials to identify good spots for water testing, and their efforts can help a town locate problem sites.

Kerrey mentioned a spot on the Sacketts Brook that had unusually high E. coli levels last summer, and the mystery of where the runoff originated — a fertilized field? A bad septic system?

The Alliance’s testing can help find the problem area by testing various spots along the brook, she said.

“I think they should be supported,” Kerrey said.

The Vermont Association of Conservation Districts also got a green-light from the Selectboard for their request for $100 from the town budget to help the Putney Fire Department.

The nonprofit Association works toward the conservation and improvement of a variety of natural resources in Vermont, including land, soil, water, trees, vegetation, fish, and wildlife.

According to Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard, the fire department received a grant from the Association in the past to install a dry hydrant, and there may be more opportunities to receive grants from them.

Selectboard member Steve Hed noted the Association’s work fits in with the town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“[Let’s] support an entity that’s doing good things,” said Board Chair Josh Laughlin.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #388 (Wednesday, December 21, 2016). This story appeared on page C4.

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