One of the greatest ongoing battles in modern Vermont has been over the use and control of the land. As population has grown, land values have increased, especially near urban areas. Many people who work in Vermont cities don’t live there and suburban communities now encircle urban centers. Unfortunately, in many instances these suburbs have swallowed up some of Vermont’s most productive agricultural lands. Farmers who were already hard-pressed to make a living have found themselves pressured to sell their land to developers.
As the number of farms has declined, the landscape has changed, and the pastoral beauty and scenic views that are promoted to Vermont’s tourists are quickly vanishing. Legislation such as Act 250 and lower tax rates for farm and forest lands haven’t stopped the sprawl. However, state and community land trusts and conservation groups have preserved some of Vermont’s farmlands and natural habitats. This debate more than any other has tested Vermonters’ resolve and ingenuity in trying to balance individual and collective rights while preserving community life.
Copyright 2006, Vermont Historical
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