Vermonters cherish the diversity our state has to offer: dramatic landscapes featuring our scenic mountains, lakes, and rivers; our wildlife heritage; and our strong rural identity, outdoor lifestyle, and historical traditions. Products from forests and farms enjoy global renown, as do our outdoor recreation opportunities, which are extremely popular and cater to individuals of all ages and skill levels. Thus it is not surprising that Vermont is one of the most desirable states to visit, live in, and conduct business.
Our forestland, natural resources, and outdoor recreation are a significant part of our identity. Forests comprise 78% of our landscape, providing habitat for many species of flora and fauna. Our forests, in fact, are a valuable, renewable, and thus sustainable resource, supporting an array of products, jobs, and recreational activities. Tourism and recreation, ever-more significant components of Vermont’s economy, are also directly dependent on our natural resources.
Vermont’s future, of course, will not only be shaped by in-state activities, but also by forces well beyond state lines: international markets, competing regional and national interests, climate change, diverse economies, and human demand for natural resources. In our state, where land is largely under private ownership and control, we—public and private sectors alike—must continue to work in partnership and engage in cooperative action to identify and work with these external forces for our collective, mutual benefit so that we create the Vermont we collectively want. We must also manage our natural resources within and not beyond our land’s natural capacity to produce them.
For our part, the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation has a distinct role to play in the resources and opportunities within our purview.