ANR Chief: State Misdirected Waterway Restoration After Irene

06/13/12 5:04PM By Steve Zind
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The Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources says Governor Peter Shumlin sent the wrong message to Vermonters about the state's rivers and streams in the days following Tropical Storm Irene.

Speaking at a panel discussion at Norwich University on Wednesday, ANR Secretary Deborah Markowitz credited the Governor for his leadership after the flood. 

But Markowitz says Shumlin wasn't aware of how waterways should be managed and inadvertently sent the wrong message about removing gravel and obstructions from river channels. 

Markowitz says that message helped make a bad situation worse in some places.

"He early on made some statements, some ‘dig-baby-dig' type statements, that inspired Vermonters to help out in ways that ultimately are very costly not just to the ecosystem but to the infrastructure," she explained.

Markowitz says the Governor and local officials have a better understanding of what should be done in rivers and streams after a major flood, but she says it's important the state do a better job overseeing the work. 

According to Markowitz, the state's five river engineers were overwhelmed by Irene and when Vermont contacted neighboring states, it discovered none had anyone with the expertise to help out.

Markowitz says her agency is building a network of river engineers that can be mobilized quickly to assist in the wake of any future flood.

Secretary Markowtiz's full comments at the panel discusson.

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