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VNRC, Fish & Wildlife Report – A Decade of Progress: Wildlife Considerations in Local Planning

first_imgVermonters overwhelmingly want to conserve wildlife habitat such as deeryards, trout streams, and bear habitat. Cities and towns have made noticeable strides in improving attention to wildlife habitat and natural resource conservation, and nearly every municipality recognizes wildlife habitat as an important local resource, according to a recent report issued by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and the Vermont Natural Resources Council. The report, Wildlife Considerations in Local Planning ‘ An Evaluation of a Decade of Progress in Vermont, was based on a detailed assessment of all municipal plans and related zoning bylaws and subdivision regulations adopted by Vermont communities. About VNRCThe Vermont Natural Resources Council is an independent, member-based, nonprofit research, education, and advocacy organization founded in 1963 to protect Vermont’s environment, economy, and quality of life. The report is the result of months of detailed, technical, and comprehensive review of 248 town plans, 219 municipal zoning regulations, 204 zoning bylaws, and 137 subdivision regulations. The report compared results from a similar study performed ten years ago, and offers specific findings and recommendations.A summary of the report findings are provided below: ‘Community outreach and technical assistance for land use planning is a priority for us,’ said John Austin a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. ‘This report affirms the many benefits of the Department’s Community Wildlife Program and technical assistance from organizations like Regional Planning Commissions and non-profits like Vermont Natural Resources Council and others,’ Austin added.  Subdivision regulations are an increasingly important tool for conserving habitat:Of the 133 subdivision regulations reviewed, 89% include planning standards, 46% of which mention wildlife habitat.51% of municipalities in Vermont have subdivision regulations; however only 8% of these municipalities include a specific definition of wildlife habitat in these regulations. In light of these positive findings, the authors found there is a noticeable disconnect between what wildlife values Vermonters say they want to conserve and the actual implementation of those goals in zoning and subdivision regulations. The report recommends that the state and others continue to help communities bridge the gap between their planning vision and the implementation of that vision. In addition, the report suggests that municipalities need to pay more attention to specific concepts that affect  wildlife and habitat conservation, such as habitat fragmentation, habitat connectivity, invasive species, and climate change.  The information highlights the importance of wildlife and land to Vermonters and draws a connection to the myriad of interests including hunters, anglers, trappers, hikers, bird watchers, local schools, and many more. The report demonstrates that towns overwhelmingly recognize the public benefits of wildlife habitat. Over the past decade, municipalities have made many gains in mapping and recommending protection of wildlife habitat in municipal plans. The report credits the work of the Fish and Wildlife Department and technical assistance providers in increasing the availability of resources for towns. According to VNRC and the Fish and Wildlife Department, there needs to be a shift from planning to implementation over the next 10 years. ‘There is a huge need for more technical assistance as we shift towards implementation given that decisions are made at a local level by volunteers on planning commissions and development review boards,’ said Brian Shupe, Deputy Director of VNRC. Vermont relies heavily on local government for land use planning. For instance, according to an in-depth review of subdivision activity in eight towns conducted by VNRC, just five of 380 subdivision proposals were subject to Act 250 jurisdiction.center_img While most towns  recommend the conservation of wildlife habitat in their municipal plans, the report documents a significant lag between plan recommendations and actual implementation of binding standards in local bylaws. Municipalities have improved attention to wildlife conservation through land use plans:Ninety-nine percent of municipal plans identify wildlife habitat as an important resource.Ninety-nine percent of municipal plans identify some form of habitat or wildlife feature (an increase of 8% from 2000).Ninety-one percent of town plans include mapped data (up from 52% in 2000.)Eighty-seven percent of all municipal plans recommend the protection of wildlife habitat.Eighty-six percent of plans include some form of natural resource inventory data (up 11% from 2000.)Eighty-three percent of municipal plans note public benefits associated with wildlife habitat (up from 62% in 2000).Only half of municipal plans identify the effect of habitat fragmentation on wildlife habitat (42% note the importance of habitat connectivity and travel corridors)Just two percent identify the importance and/or relevance of climate change effects on wildlife habitat To read the report and its recommendations go to either the VNRC’s website (VNRC.org) or the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website (vtfishandwildlife.com). ‘Over the past several years, more and more Vermonters, through their town plans, have clearly and repeatedly said, ‘our wildlife heritage is important’ ‘ now there is a need for on-the-ground work to assure those values are reflected in specific municipal policies,’ said Jamey Fidel, VNRC’s general counsel and forest and biodiversity program director. ‘This is especially true in light of Vermont Supreme Court guidance that instructs that towns must be very specific with natural resource and wildlife habitat conservation and protection policies,’ added Fidel.  Local zoning lags behind municipal plans·   ·         A small percentage of the zoning bylaws reviewed contain conditional use standards or site plan requirements that mention wildlife habitat or specific wildlife related considerations.Of the 211 zoning bylaws reviewed, 88% include conditional use standards, but only 17% of these standards mention wildlife habitat.75% of zoning bylaws include site plan requirements, but only 18% of these standards mention wildlife habitat.51% include some form of conservation district (49% of which mention wildlife habitat).39% include explicit riparian buffers (the average buffer width was 42 feet)22% include a forest reserve district (40% of which specifically mention wildlife habitat).2% of the municipalities include a specific definition of ‘wildlife habitat’ in their zoning bylaws.1% of the municipalities (3 municipalities) include a wildlife habitat overlay district. ‘Decisions about the long-term health of the state’s wildlife habitat lie largely in the hands of local boards, commissions and private landowners, who meet in our town halls and school cafeterias,’ said Jens Hawkins-Hilke, a conservation planning biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. ‘These very busy and committed volunteers have day jobs, families, and in many cases need additional technical assistance to implement their town’s vision for its wildlife.’   About the Vt Fish and Wildlife DepartmentThe MISSION of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the people of Vermont.  www.vtfishandwildlife.com(link is external)last_img read more

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9 die in 10th day of Myanmar protest

first_imgThe Bush administration imposed economic sanctions against 14 senior officials in the government, including the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, and the No. 2 man, Deputy Senior Gen. Maung Aye. The action freezes any assets the 14 have in U.S. banks or other financial institutions under U.S. jurisdiction, and also prohibits any U.S. citizens from doing business with those individuals. “The world is watching the people of Burma take to the streets to demand their freedom, and the American people stand in solidarity with these brave individuals,” Bush said in a statement. Thousands of protesters ran through the streets of Yangon on Thursday after warning shots were fired into the crowds. Bloody sandals were left lying in the road. “Give us freedom, give us freedom!” some shouted at the soldiers. Ye Htut, a government spokesman, said riot police clashed with anti-government protesters in Yangon on Thursday, killing nine people and injuring 11. Thirty-one government troops were also injured, he said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CRACKDOWN: A Japanese journalist is among those killed; 11 others are wounded. By The Associated Press YANGON, Myanmar – Security forces fired automatic weapons into thousands of pro-democracy protesters for a second day Thursday, and the military government said nine people were killed and 11 wounded. Tens of thousands defied the ruling military junta’s crackdown with a 10th straight day of demonstrations in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. Security forces also raided several monasteries overnight, beating monks and arresting more than 100, according to a monk at one monastery. Among the dead was journalist Kenji Nagai of the Japanese video news agency APF News. Japanese broadcaster Fuji posted a photo on its Web site showing a man believed to be Nagai lying on his back – apparently wounded in the chest but holding a video camera in his hand – with a soldier pointing a gun at him at point-blank range. The protests are the stiffest challenge to the generals in two decades, a crisis that began Aug. 19 with protests over a fuel price hike, then expanded dramatically when monks started leading the marches. Today, Myanmar’s military rulers declared no-go zones around five key Buddhist monasteries in an effort to quash the demonstrations, a diplomat said after Southeast Asian envoys were called in by Myanmar authorities for a meeting. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing protocol, said regime members told the envoys that security forces had the monks “under control” and would now turn their attention to civilian protesters. The crackdown has drawn increasing international pressure on the isolated regime. last_img read more

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Manchester United close in on £40m Matic signing, and here’s what the fans think

first_img Nemanja Matic looks set to depart Chelsea for Manchester United 1 Manchester United are closing in on the £40 million signing of Nemanja Matic from Chelsea, according to reports.The 28-year-old has been a key figure in west London since his return to Stamford Bridge from Benfica in 2014, and he has been central to the Premier League successes under Jose Mourinho in 2014/15 and Antonio Conte last season.But it now appears as if he is considered surplus to requirements under Conte, with the Blues ready to complete a deal for Tiemoue Bakayoko of Monaco.And so Mourinho has swooped in for the midfielder he signed when in charge of Chelsea, with a £40m deal almost agreed.Fans of both United and Chelsea have taken to social media to discuss the impending transfer, and you can see some of the best reactions below…last_img read more

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Hughes ponders changes for replay

first_imgMark Hughes is set to make changes for his team’s FA Cup replay against MK Dons – QPR’s second match in as many days.The new manager, an FA Cup winner with Manchester United and Chelsea, will assess the condition of several players ahead of his first home game in charge.He plans to include at least a couple of players who did not feature against Newcastle, with Hogan Ephraim poised for an outing and DJ Campbell also hoping to be involved.“It’ll give me a chance to look at players that didn’t get a chance to influence the [Newcastle] game,” said Hughes.“There won’t be as many changes as people might think though. I always treat the FA Cup with respect – it’s a competition that’s been good to me.”Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img

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