Vermont Legislation Would Ban Access to Waterway

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Take action today! Vermont sportsmen should contact their State Representative and tell to vote “NO” on House Bill 6. This piece of legislation is nothing more than a smokescreen to prevent hunting and fishing on Berlin Pond, and sets a precedent that would allow other towns to restrict hunting and fishing! Members can contact their representative by using the Sportsmen’s Alliance Legislative Action Center.

In a recurring battle in Vermont, newly introduced legislation would give the city of Montpelier the ability to ban all access to Berlin Pond, a popular waterway. Using clean water as a justification, House Bill 6 would grant Montpelier the authority to regulate its public water supply to prevent the water from being tainted. The city has previously attempted to regulate access to the pond, under the guise of protecting the city’s water supply from contamination by human interaction. According to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, at least 40 percent of Vermont residents drink water from sources that allow human recreation and experience no issues.

The Vermont Supreme Court previously negated regulations limiting access to the pond, ruling that only the state had the authority to limit access to waterways, including to Berlin Pond. The high court left a loophole however, which the city is now attempting to exploit.

The court’s decision allowed the state of Vermont to delegate its authority over waterways to a municipality. As a result, the city approved a change to its charter that requests the state delegate authority of the pond to Montpelier. Recently introduced House Bill 6 would give the city authority to manage waterways to protect the water supply within the city and Berlin Pond, which is outside of the city limits. There have been no reports of contamination issues on Berlin Pond since the Supreme Court cleared the way for recreational access five years ago.

In addition to losing access to Berlin Pond, House bill 6 sets a dangerous precedent that allows a local government to completely restrict access to waterways for recreational purposes. This undermines the state’s ability to manage fish and wildlife resources, and threatens to diminish opportunities for Vermont sportsmen who fund conservation programs through their hunting and fishing licenses along with taxes on hunting and fishing gear.

The water supply safety fear is completely unfounded, and is a smokescreen being used by those who oppose recreational hunting and fishing use of Berlin Pond. It is for these reasons that HB 6 should be rejected by the Vermont House of Representatives.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.