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News Roundup: Gov. Scott Hopeful Vermont-Canadian Border Will Reopen In Another Month

A yellow background with vermont news round up written, with a small green graphic of vermot on the "R" of roundup
Elodie Reed

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the Vermont-Canadian border, investigating climate change effects and more for Wednesday, June 30.

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As Vermont's pandemic state of emergency has ended and coronavirus restrictions lifted statewide, we will no longer be reporting daily case numbers at the top of this newsletter. Click here for the latest on new cases, and find the latest vaccination data online any time.

1. Gov. Scott hopeful the Vermont-Canadian border will reopen in another month

Gov. Phil Scott says it's possible the Vermont-Canadian border will be open for non-essential business and travel by the end of July.

Scott says the Canadian vaccination rate has been climbing steadily in recent weeks and could soon reach the 75% threshold goal set by the Trudeau government.

The governor says it's also likely that only fully-vaccinated people will be allowed to initially cross the border in either direction.

"I would not be surprised if there wasn't some sort of vaccine-type of passport that would be necessary to go back and forth across the border when it does open,” he said. “I think the door has been opened somewhat of late."

Scott noted a reopening of the Canadian border will positively benefit Vermont's tourism industry.

- Bob Kinzel

2. Dairy farm and University of Vermont partner up to measure how soil management might fight climate change

An Addison County dairy farm will work with the University of Vermont to measure how soil management might fight climate change and phosphorus pollution.

The six-year study, funded by an $850,000 grant, will take place at Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, one of the state’s largest dairies. UVM researchers will collect data on how practices like cover-cropping and no-till agriculture impact greenhouse gas emissions, water quality and soil health.

Marie Audet, with Blue Spruce Farm, says the study is the latest in a list of innovative practices adopted by the dairy.

“We’ve often changed as data changes, as information changes, as the climate changes, to meet the needs of our consumers, to meet the needs of our neighbors, to take care of this beautiful spot we have in the world," Audet said.

The UVM study is part of a larger, multi-million dollar project across dozens of farms in the country’s major dairy regions.

- Elodie Reed

3. Natural area losses will disproportionately impact BIPOC and lower-income communities

The loss of natural areas over the next 80 years will disproportionately impact people of color and lower-income communities. That's according to new research from the University of Vermont.

The study looked at three factors: air quality, the control of diseases spread by insects, and crop pollination.

Natalia Aristizábal is one of the co-authors of the study.

"Where urban populations are expected to grow, there's going to be a loss of air quality services, and disease control,” Aristizábal said. “And in areas where cropland is expected to expand, we actually see steep declines in crop pollination."

The study's authors say land use decisions such as adding more parks in urban areas will be crucial to lessening the impact of nature loss in the coming decades.

Read/hear the full interview.

- Henry Epp

4. Gov. Scott says extension of a supplemental federal unemployment benefits unlikely

Gov. Phil Scott says it's unlikely that he'll support an extension of a supplemental federal unemployment benefit after the program expires at the beginning of September.

For the past few months, states have had the option of allowing unemployment recipients to collect an extra $300 a week in benefits as part of a pandemic relief program.

Scott says Vermont is returning to a period of low unemployment, and he no longer thinks the additional federal benefits are needed.

“If Congress decides to extend the $300 stipend I would be… I would probably not accept,” he said.“I think it has gone on long enough, and we would let it lapse as of Sept. 6.”

Scott says he wants to be certain that the additional federal stipend doesn't discourage any Vermonters from seeking work.

- Bob Kinzel

5. An extension of the Amtrak line from Rutland to Burlington may be delayed until 2022

The long-awaited extension of the Amtrak line from Rutland to Burlington may be delayed until later in 2022 because of issues in the supply chain.

Vermont Rail Action Network Executive Director Christopher Parker told the Rutland Herald on Monday that work is under way at stations, but rail switches are on backorder.

That could delay the opening of the line from early next year to sometime later in 2022.

The Ethan Allen Express train is being extended north from Rutland to Burlington, and will have stops in Middlebury and Vergennes.

All Amtrak service to Vermont was suspended during the pandemic, but will resume July 19.

- Associated Press

6. Vermont Statehouse slated to reopen

The Vermont Statehouse is slated to open its doors to the public next week.

For the past 15 months, the Statehouse has been closed. The Legislature met remotely for the entire 2021 session.

Sergeant at Arms Janet Miller says Vermont's high vaccination rate and low COVID case rate means that most restrictions can now be lifted.

"And after opening, you know, we may see some things that we need to tweak or modify, anything to accommodate the situations that are coming up,” Miller said. “This is a trial run, and we're going to do the best we can.”

The Statehouse will officially be open to the public starting Tuesday, July 6.

- Bob Kinzel

7. State reports four more COVID cases

Seven people in Vermont are hospitalized today due to COVID-19, and two of them are in intensive care.

That's as the state reports another four virus infections statewide Wednesday.

Health officials now report more than 82% of eligible Vermonters have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine.

- Matthew Smith

Marlon Hyde compiled and edited this post.

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