Gov. Phil Scott says he’s “very apprehensive” about a plan by the federal government to expand a U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge in northeast Vermont.
In a Sept. 1 letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Scott says he’s heard “deep concerns” from loggers, farmers and municipal officials over a plan approved late last year that would conserve an additional 60,000 acres of land in the Connecticut River watershed.
The proposal would expand dramatically the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, which now encompasses about 25,000 acres in northern Vermont. The Conte refuge also includes parcels up and down the Connecticut River valley in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
In his letter to Zinke, Scott says he worries the expansion “could put more strain on our farm and forest economies as they compete in an increasingly competitive global market.”
Administration officials say the governor is not necessarily opposed to the federal plan. But they say he wants assurances from the federal government on issues such as timber harvesting and hunting before it moves forward with the plan.
Vermont Public Radio will have much more on this story Monday.