HOME PAGE: News - October 28, 2014




State Says No to Quiet Wolcott Pond


     by Andrew Martin

     Those seeking to make Wolcott Pond a ‘quiet pond’ have their answer. On Wednesday, October 22 the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that it was denying the petition by the group known as the Friends of Wolcott Pond to restrict the use of the body of water and make it a quiet pond. The Friends of Wolcott Pond submitted their petition in 2013, and if approved it would have prohibited internal combustion engines on the pond.
     In the press release on the decision the DEC explained “that enforcement of the existing 5 mph speed limit is preferred to prohibiting internal combustion motors from using Wolcott Pond.”
     “Wolcott Pond is an accessible, natural pond with some nice wetland edges that provides important recreational opportunities for fishing and wildlife watching,” stated DEC Lakes and Pond Program Manager Susan Warren in the press release on the decision, “We are pleased that the pond will continue to be available to all boaters who respect and obey the 5 mph speed limit on all areas of the pond,”
     “Typically there has to be compelling case to further restrict the current uses on a body of water,” Warren added in an interview with the News & Citizen, “Taking the pond from the five mph speed limit to a quiet pond would require a compelling case.”
     Those in Wolcott who were hoping to restrict the use of the pond were less enthusiastic regarding the decision.
     “It is in our town plan that we would like to see Wolcott Pond made a quiet pond, and we were hoping that would happen,” stated Wolcott Selectboard Belinda Clegg, “However we respect the decision by the Department of Environmental Conservation and hope that the five mph speed limit is upheld.”
     “We are incredibly disappointed,” added Jan Roy, who with her husband Steven Young spearheaded the Friends of Wolcott Pond group.
     Roy went on to add that her group spent a great deal of time gathering local input on what residents of Wolcott would like to see the pond become. They also garnered a number of signatures from kayakers and other individuals using the pond who supported them.
     “We are just ordinary people who know and use the pond, and we made a real effort to reach other people that actually use the pond,” Roy stated, “The request for it to be a quiet pond was certainly in line with the town plan.”
     Roy also stated that during the hearing on the petition a number of lobbyists and special interest groups spoke against the quiet pond designation.
     “This decision makes me wonder who they (the DEC) are listening to,” Roy stated, again reiterating that they were simply a local group trying to ask the state to make the pond what the locals wanted it to be.
     According to the press release the DEC made the decision to deny the petition based in part on the fact that it felt the two of the major concerns of the group, swimmer safety and noise concerns, are only an issue when the five mph speed limit is violated. Therefore the enforcement of that speed limit would negate those concerns and still allow internal combustion engines on the water. The DEC also stated in its decision that it was “unaware of any water quality issues or impairments associated with Wolcott Pond” in response to the concern raised in the petition that allowing internal combustion engines on the pond could lead to pollution. The DEC went on to state that the proper enforcement of existing water quality regulatory controls is the preferred way to achieve that portion of the petitions purpose “without unnecessarily restricting use of the pond.”
     In the release the DEC added that while it has denied the petition by the Friends of Wolcott Pond it is willing to work with the group to enhance the visibility of the Use of Public Waters Rules at the access area for the pond and to help enhance the communication with the enforcement agencies and programs who can ensure the current rules and regulations on the pond are being followed.
     According to Jan Roy she and her group have not yet determined if there is any other way in which they can seek to make Wolcott Pond a quiet pond.
     “We still need to assess what to do next,” Roy explained.
     Anyone who wishes to learn more about the decision by the DEC regarding Wolcott Pond can do so by visiting their site http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/rulemaking/htm/petitions.htm or by contacting Susan Warren at the DEC at 1-802-490-6134.



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