Ripples: The Newsletter of the
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
Welcome to Winter
December 2013


Respect.          Protect.          Enjoy.


In This Issue:
From the Secretary's Desk: This Year, Resolve to "Be the Change You Want to See"
Restoring a Clean Lake Champlain
A Longtime State Advocate for Wetlands Protection Retires
Call for Photo Contest Submissions
Celebrate the Holidays with the ANR!
What Are Your Thoughts About Ripples?
The Truth About Mistletoe
Quick Links
Photo Credit:
Alexey Kljatov
See more of his snowflake macro photos here.
Applications Being Accepted for 2014 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence
Applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence. The awards recognize the actions taken by individuals and organizations to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and promote sustainability. Applications are due by January 27, 2014. Members of the public and staff of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources are encouraged to nominate projects or promote deserving organizations. For more information and a link to the application, please visit
DEC's Watershed Management Division Launches flow, a New Blog Focused on Vermont's Water Quality Efforts
What do a wastewater treatment operator, a student, a recreational kayaker, a highway engineer, an environmental advocate, a business owner, and a Montpelier resident all have in common? They can all find helpful and interesting information in flow, the new blog published by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation's Watershed Management Division.
Launched in October, the blog highlights the Watershed Management Division's numerous and diverse projects that impact Vermont's more than 800 lakes and ponds, 7,100 miles of rivers and streams, and 300,000 acres of wetlands. These surface waters represent a vital resource for the residents, natural communities, and economy of Vermont and all of us can benefit from a greater understanding of them. With topics as varied as green stormwater infrastructure, biological monitoring, grant opportunities, climate change, wetlands and watersheds, and shoreland habitats, there is something for everyone.
Whatever your interest, if it's related to water you will find it on flow. So go ahead and check it out: You can sign up to receive email notifications for each new blog post, or just bookmark the site and check back often, it's updated at least once a week.
ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz
From the Secretary's Desk: This Year, Resolve to "Be the Change You Want to See", and Help Vermont Make Progress on Climate Change


Last month, I met with a group of high school students who were thinking about what they could do in their schools and communities to help combat climate change. One of them asked whether what we do in Vermont to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions matters since climate change is a problem on a global scale. This caused another student to shout out the Mahatma Gandhi adage that we must "be the change we want to see in the world." Both of their points were excellent. Vermont is a small state and the challenge of climate change is global, but, as we saw with Tropical Storm Irene and the half a dozen significant flood events we experienced since then, we are not immune from the impacts of climate change. If we are going to prevent further damage to Vermont (and to the rest of the world), each one of us has an obligation to reduce our contribution to the problem.


The good news is that we are making some headway. Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions decreased in 2010 and again in 2011 to an amount equal to our 1990 levels even though, back in 1990, Vermont's population was about 10% smaller (60,000 people fewer) than it is today. This means our investments in energy efficiency, adoption of stronger motor vehicle emissions standards, and renewable energy policies are working. But we need to do more. Our emissions will not continue to decline without a concerted effort.     


In that spirit, I challenge you to join me in resolving to reduce our greenhouse gas contributions in the coming year. Read more...

Burlington residents listen as EPA and DEC officials propose solutions to clean up Lake Champlain
Restoring a Clean Lake Champlain


By Eric Smeltzer, Environmental Scientist


Vermonters value a clean Lake Champlain. We swim and fish in the lake, we boat on it, we drink its water, and we generally like being around it. A clean lake attacts businesses and tourists to the region and provides a major driver of the state's economy.
Phosphorus pollution is the greatest threat to clean water in Lake Champlain. Phosphorus is a nutrient that stimulates excess growth of algae in the lake, turning the water green and making it unsuitable at times for swimming or drinking. Phosphorus is found in eroded sediment and runoff from farm fields, barnyards, roads, parking lots, and streambanks, and in wastewater discharges.
Vermont has accelerated its efforts to reduce all of these sources of phosphorus over the past ten years, but the lake has been slower to recover. Read more... 
Alan Quackenbush in the field
A Longtime State Advocate for Wetland Protection Retires
By Danielle Owczarski, District Wetlands Ecologist

The Vermont Wetlands Program (VWP) - staffed with 5 full-time employees - manages more than 391,000 acres of significant wetlands and wetland buffer throughout the State of Vermont. The character required to direct a program with the demands encountered by the wetlands section is one of strength and perserverence, and Alan Quackenbush has been an ideal match.


Self-effacing, soft-spoken and committed, Alan has devoted the last 23 years of his life to protecting a natural resource that has a reputation as an underdog. While rivers and lakes are esteemed for their aesthetic and recreational values, wetlands are just now receiving the credit they deserve as powerhouses of water quality protection, wildlife habitat and flood resiliency.


In many ways Alan compares to his charge by taking on the great task of protecting a vital public resource despite not always receiving praise from the public or private interests for his work. He has been a fair regulator, dedicated scientist and a kind supervisor.


His curiosity about science was spurred by a biology teacher who was passionate about using knowledge as a tool for discovery. Read more...


  "October Sunrise" Photo Credit: Leila LaRosa
Call for Photo Submissions! #VTANR
Calling all photographers! The Agency of Natural Resources is launching a photo contest. 
Vermont is one of the most beautiful, and photographed, states in the nation. Beginning January 1st, we invite you to become stewards and spokespersons for the natural world by sharing the images that move you with us, and with the public. 


Contestants will be able to submit their photos on a variety of media platforms including: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (you can also submit directly by email to ). Photographers will be asked to follow a monthly theme, which will be announced on the first work day of each month on Facebook, Twitter and in the ANR newsletter (and eventually on our photo contest web page, to be developed).


January: The theme for January is "gifts of nature". What gifts have you received from the natural world? Wisdom? Knowledge? Material comfort? Show us nature's gifts through your eyes. To submit via Facebook please post the image directly to our page: Instagram submissions can be tagged #vtanrgifts. If you are using Twitter, be sure to tag us at @VTANR and include the hashtag #gifts. Email submissions should be in jpeg format and sized at least 300 dpi's. Be sure to include your name, age and the location that the photo was taken, as well as a brief explanation of why you submitted the photo and how it relates to the theme.


The details:

  1. Contests will occur on a monthly basis unless otherwise noted
  2. Unless otherwise noted, favorites will be shared on Facebook, in the Ripples newsletter, and on a webpage (to be created) on the ANR website.
  3. By submitting photos to the contest, the photographer agrees to allow the Agency of Natural Resources to re-distribute photos as they see fit. Photos will be kept, with owner's permissions, in a digital repertoire that can be used by the Agency at any given time. Credit will always be given to the photographer and displayed publically whenever an image is posted.
  4. Photos will be judged by ANR staff to determine a winner. We may also solicit input from the public.
  5. Contestants can be amateur or professional. There are no general restrictions.
  6. Upon submission, you will be asked your full name, age, and the location that the photo was taken.
  7. Photos taken need to be the property of the owner. Immediate disqualification will take place if it is found that photographer is impersonating a photo as their own. The ANR assumes no responsibility for images used without permission. Accountability rests with the submittor.
  8. There is no limit to how many photos you can submit.
  9. Rules can be adjusted and amended as seen fit. If adjustments have taken place, all persons affected will be notified.

You asked us for more photography, and we responded! But in order to bring you more of what you want, we need your participation. So send us those photos - we can't wait to showcase the results!

Celebrate the Holidays with the ANR! 

Need a last minute gift idea? We have lots of holiday gift options for the outdoor-lover on your shopping list.


Vermont State Parks have put together a full page of gift packages and park merchandise, just in time for the giving season. With lots of options to choose from, there is bound to be something for everyone. Check out the full list of state park gifts and gear here.


Fish and Wildlife's 2014 wildlife calendars are also now available. Featuring hunting, fishing and trapping dates along with stunning wildlife photography, the calendar is available for $12. Click here for more information or to purchase a 2014 Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department Calendar.  



What Are Your Thoughts About Ripples, the Newsletter of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources? 


It has been a year since we began publishing the Ripples newsletter. Our goals for the publication of Ripples have been to share with the public some of the work that goes on at the ANR, to provide education and resources for members of the public, and to encourage feedback from our readers on the issues we work on throughout the year.
With a year under our belts, we want to know more about what you think of our newsletter, and whether you believe it is meeting the goals above. We are interested in how we could make the newsletter more useful for our readers. With that in mind, we are asking our readers to complete a brief survey gauging your level of satisfaction with the format, content and frequency of the newsletter.
The survey should take about 5 minutes to complete and is fully confidential. Please click here to link to the survey, and share your thoughts and ideas about how we could improve future issues of Ripples.
A great big thank you to each of you who take the time to complete our survey, and to all the folks who take the time out of your busy day to read our newsletter and learn a little more about our work here at the Agency of Natural Resources! 

The Truth About Mistletoe


By Alyson Atondo, Intern, Agency of Natural Resources


Many people associate the mistletoe plant with the Christmas holiday. Indeed, this plant has become ingrained into the holiday tradition; most notably for kissing your loved one under this holly-like plant. However, many are unaware of some of the less savory aspects of the mistletoe plant.


Mistletoe is hemi-, or half, parasitic. Although the plant generates its own food through the biological process of photosynthesis, it relies heavily upon a host tree for water and nutritional necessities such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. Unlike many other species of plants that grow roots, mistletoe produces root-like "structures". These structures tap into the host tree and steal the nutrients necessary for mistletoe to thrive.


Mistletoe is also a poisonous plant. Even though the poisonous parts (the berries and leaves, depending on the species) are not immediately dangerous to humans in small quantities, they do pose potential health issues (such as nausea and gastrointestinal distress). Small animals, particularly our four-legged friends, can experience the poisonous effects of mistletoe to a greater extent. It is advised to keep this plant away from Fido and Fluffy and only admire the plant from afar.


Despite its more nefarious traits, however, the mistletoe does hold a place of ecological significance. It is an ecological keystone species, an organism that has disproportionate influence over its community. It provides food and nesting habitat for a wide variety of forest creatures, including over 240 species of birds. Although it weakens the host tree, there is evidence that by attracting berry-eating bird species, its presence can actually lead to higher biodiversity in the surrounding area.


So before you go out and "deck the halls" this year, spend a moment to consider the rich natural history of the simple mistletoe hanging above your doorway.

Like Us On Facebook! 
Liking the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources' Facebook page is a terrific way to stay connected to everything natural resource-related. Sustainability tips, hunting and fishing news, beautiful landscape and wildlife photos, public comment notices, all of these and more are available to our Facebook community. Why not become a part of it? Click here to visit our new page now!
Contact Us:

Deb Markowitz, Secretary

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources