What is an optimal/sustainable population for Vermont? That depends. That depends on how you define optimal and sustainable. Then it depends on what indicators you use to measure what is optimal/sustainable. In a world ground breaking report of that title just published by Vermonters for Sustainable Population and readable on their website, www.vspop.org, those "it depends" questions are answered.

If you are using the scientifically-based, objective, and responsible ecological footprint indicator, a long-term sustainable population is 150,000, compared to its current population of over 626,000. If you are using the more subjective quality of life indicator then an optimal population could be up to 700,000. In between these two numbers are the indicators of biodiversity, environmental health, food self-sufficiency, forest cover, greenhouse gas emissions, happiness of Vermont citizens, renewable energy production, rural living/working landscape, scenic beauty, spiritual connectedness, steady state economy, and water quality.

Projecting what is an optimal/sustainable population size will always be a debatable discussion but having that discussion for Vermont as we face many dire social and environmental challenges is extremely important.

I urge all Vermont citizens to read the report and then begin the discussion with your family, friends, communities, environmental and social organizations, churches, governmental agencies, and politicians.


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Do we think that we should grow Vermont’s population to one or two million, or even more like most other states, or would some other number be more desirable and sustainable?

LISA SAMMET

Craftsbury

President of Vermonters for Sustainable Population

Praise for the upkeep of Willow Park

Recently I have spent more time at Willow Park and have been pleased to see it so beautifully maintained. The short list: The place is always clean and well mowed; new fences, parking, and other safety improvements have been made; and thousands of people a year enjoy the sports fields, playground, exercise opportunities, special events and other outdoor fun somehow without ruining it.

It’s got to be a lot of work keeping it looking nice; my compliments to the Town of Bennington buildings and grounds staff. It kind of makes you feel good about the municipal side of your property taxes.

DONALD CAMPBELL

Bennington