Oct. 5 Public Hearing on Changes to Endangered and Threatened Species Rule

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VERMONT FISH & WILDLIFE

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will hold a public hearing Tuesday, October 5, on several changes to Vermont’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule on behalf of the Agency of Natural Resources.

The in-person public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Pavilion Auditorium, 109 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05609.  In addition to the hearing, public comments regarding the proposed changes can be emailed until October 13 to ANR.FWPublicComment@vermont.gov.         

The proposed changes of listing, delisting and critical habitat designations in Vermont’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule include:

List Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides L.) as endangered.  There are two populations in Vermont and fewer than 100 reproducing individuals in Vermont.  It meets a secondary criterion of being in danger of exploitation or threatened with disturbance.

Delist Canada Black Snakeroot (Sanicula canadensis L. var. canadensis.  Up to 14 populations occur at least partially on protected conservation land.  This species is sufficiently abundant, not at risk, and therefore proposed to be delisted.

Brook Floater status change from threatened to be endangered.  Surveys indicate that this freshwater mussel has experienced a severe population decline in Vermont.  This species is only known to occur in a single river in Vermont.  The Brook Floater is one of the most endangered freshwater mussels in northeastern North America.  This species is not abundant in streams anywhere it occurs, with populations often being fragmented and isolated from one another.  Declining populations have been reported in at least 12 of the 16 states where it occurs.

List the American bumble bee as endangered.  This grassland species that nests above ground has not been documented since 2000 in spite of bee survey work in Vermont.  Drastic declines have been documented in portions of the range.  The American bumble bee was not found at historic locations during a recent two-year bee atlas effort.  The Vermont decline occurred in the 1980s.  Three other bumble bee species are currently listed.   There are 17 different species of bumble bees in Vermont.

List the Eastern Meadowlark as threatened.  Estimates of population declines for the Eastern Meadowlark are based on data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey and Vermont’s Breeding Bird Atlas.  The former suggests a 95 percent population decline over the last 40 years.  The later shows a 55 percent decrease in distribution over the last 25 years.

Delist the Bald Eagle.  Vermont and her nearby borders have seen a significant and steady population growth of bald eagles since 2006.  Surveys indicate the Bald Eagle has met the criteria for delisting outlined in the Vermont Bald Eagle Recovery Plan, both in Vermont and in the recovery area, which includes portions of New Hampshire and New York.  In 2020, 64 fledgling eagles were found in Vermont and more than 75 were found in the recovery region.

Designate three small, rocky state-endangered Common Tern nesting islands in Lake Champlain as critical habitat.  They are comprised of a mosaic of gravel, bare rock, grasses, forbs, and woody vegetation, including trees.  Common Terns are a colonial nesting species which nest on the ground and use the gravel and rock substrate on these islands to nest.  Common Tern nesting areas on all three islands lie above the annual high-water mark for Lake Champlain.  Common Terns have been documented nesting on islands in Lake Champlain since the late 1800s.  Green Mountain Audubon owns the islands and supports designation as critical habitat.

Designate Aeolus Cave in Dorset as critical habitat.  It has been recognized as a bat hibernaculum since the mid-1900s.  It is the largest hibernaculum in New England.  It contains listed bats and has many listed Little Brown Bats.  Thousands of bats come here from all over the Northeast.  It is owned by The Nature Conservancy, and they support the designation.  The proposal includes a 115-meter or about 125-yard radius critical habitat area around the cave entrance that overlays the underground portions of the cave system.

Designate four state-threatened Spiny Softshell Turtle nesting beaches as critical habitat.  These four Lake Champlain nesting beaches are managed by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, and they are considered to be Vermont’s most important sites.  Three are state-owned, the fourth is privately owned, and the proposal has landowner support.

Also recommended for listing is Houghton’s sedge as endangered, with only a single known location in Vermont.

Additional information about proposed changes to 10 V.S.A. Appendix §10 Vermont’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule can be seen on Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s website www.vtfishandwildlife.com. 

Date: 
Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 6:30pm