Panton Farm Fined for Environmental Violations

 

December 21, 2021. – The Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that Vorsteveld Farm, LLC (the Farm), agreed to pay a fine and perform corrective and remedial actions for unpermitted activities associated with its Large Farm Operation in Panton, Vermont.

In May 2016 and again in June 2017, the Farm removed vegetation, performed dredging, and placed fill in a wetlands complex associated with the Dead Creek, ultimately impacting approximately 7.1 acres of Class II wetlands and their surrounding buffer zones. “Class II” wetlands exhibit significant functions or values such as water quality protection and/or habitat. In March 2020, the Agency observed evidence that the Farm had allowed agricultural waste like manure to run off from the farmstead to a tributary of the Dead Creek.

Vermont’s streams and wetlands provide many valuable services to the public and environment including water storage during flood events, water quality protection, habitat for fish, wildlife, and plant species, and recreation. Unpermitted activities in or near streams and wetlands have the potential to harm these important services and habitats. State regulations are in place to manage and minimize that risk.

“Vermont's farmers are an important part of the state's landscape and local food system. The state supports the agricultural community in efforts to prevent pollution from farms from entering our rivers, lakes and wetlands,” says Peter Walke, DEC Commissioner. “However, we are prepared to use a suite of compliance tools to correct unlawful activities and restore the environment when unpermitted activities occur, up to and including formal enforcement.”

In light of the violations, the Farm agreed to pay a $21,750 penalty, to make structural improvements to prevent farm runoff to the Dead Creek tributary, and to remediate the impacts to the wetlands by implementing an Agency-approved wetland restoration plan. Over objections filed by Conservation Law Foundation, the Vermont Superior Court, Environmental Division approved the agreement in a Final Judicial Order on December 10, 2021.