Balancing all-out preservation and
development at all cost
to Reflections on Environmental Health in Vernal Pools-]
Photo by Michele Stapleton
Translating vernal pool science into
land-use policy is no easy task. Nevertheless, Aram Calhoun of The
University of Maine, and Michael Klemens of the Wildlife Conservation
Society have led a team of scientists and development specialists in
creating guidelines for municipalities and developers: Best Development
Practices — Conserving Pool-Breeding Amphibians in Residential and
Commercial Developments in the Northeastern United States.
This spring, UMaine graduate student Damon Oscarson will be working with
two York County, Maine, towns to put the guidelines into practice and
create a model that other communities can use.
The guidelines do not have any regulatory authority; they are strictly
voluntary. They call for municipalities to identify vernal pools,
prioritize them according to their importance to the environment and
then create a conservation plan.
Creating the guidelines was a joint project of UMaine, Maine Audubon
Society and the Wildlife Conservation Society, with funding support from
foundations and environmental agencies. Developers also provided input
to the document.
Another set of guidelines will be published for the forest products
"What I like about this approach is that it admits that, in a developing
landscape, we're going to lose pools," says Calhoun. "In the past,
people put a little 50-foot buffer around them, and that made us feel
good. (Now) the point is to put mitigation into a resource that's going
to serve the function. We are going to lose pools in a developing
landscape, so let's be careful about which ones we choose to conserve."