Matters of respect and control
I attended the May 27 hearing in regard to access to Berlin Pond. One of the things that stuck out to me with glaring clarity was the difference in the level of decorum between those opposed to access and those supporting access. We were all asked not to applaud. While those supporting access were respectful, those opposed to access frequently engaged in raucous applause and jeered one supporter of access. This shows a fundamental difference of the levels of respect between the groups. Paddlers on the pond have taken nothing from those who already used it, yet they wish to bar us.
I was disappointed by Rep. Warren Kitzmiller. It was unprofessional for him to claim the weight of thousands in hopes of leveraging the decision. He may speak for many when he is on the hill, but to lay claim to that in a public hearing is out of line in my opinion. His right there was to testify as an individual. Mr. Kitzmiller is mistaking the noisy gear for the only cog in the machine.
There is a massive swamp upstream of the pond with farmland along it, and wildlife abound throughout the watershed. The thousands of geese that pass through annually create turbidity and sully the water much more than paddlers upon the pond can. We cannot pretend that paddlers and fishermen degrade water quality to a greater degree than agricultural runoff or wildlife feces.
There was groaning among those opposed to access when I mentioned Montpelier’s sewage overflow issues, two raw sewage, and one chemical byproduct overflow in March alone of 2013 into the Winooski. That’s one month. This isn’t about water quality. It’s about control.
A small group wishes to keep this resource from fellow Vermonters, and it must not stand. The community has spoken. Berlin voted overwhelmingly in support of access, the Supreme Court has upheld this right, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, a division of the Agency of Natural Resources, supports access. It is time for us, too, to support the access to this bountiful resource. Email Laura.Woods@state.vt.us and ask that Berlin Pond remain open for all to enjoy.
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