The Senate Natural Resources and Energy committee Wednesday passed a bill designed to prevent forest fragmentation caused by development.
The bill requires that forest fragmentation be considered in the Act 250 review, the state's land use and development permitting process.
The committee voted 4-1 in favor of the bill. Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans, voted against the bill after the committee struck down his proposed amendment.
The bill originally sought to expand the scope of Act 250 to apply to forestry practices,but foresters lobbied against the measure. Foresters said a change in the permitting process could have unintended consequences for well-to-do foresters who are already complying with other permitting requirements.
Under the revised legislation, forest fragmentation will only be considered when development is already subject to Act 250 jurisdiction.
Jamey Fidel, forest and wildlife program director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council, said the bill is a good step toward addressing the problem of forest fragmentation.
"We think it will lead to better planning - better up front planning of projects that will still potentially meet the goals that the applicant has but it may not be at the expense of the forest," he said.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department Parks and Recreation are working on a plan to address forest fragmentation as well.