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If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is coming after Waitsfield for working in the Mad River with only state permits, will the Corps go after Warren as well?


The news this week that the Corps may seek enforcement action against Waitsfield makes one wonder what will happen to the hundred-plus other towns in Vermont that initiated in-stream work based on the say so of the Vermont Agency of Transportation.


The notice to Waitsfield was triggered by a separate federal stream bank project application for the Bridge Street area that pre-dated the August 28 Irene flooding. So maybe only Waitsfield will get the notice.


It’s odd that the Army Corps of Engineers would fail to notice—from August 29 through last Friday, September 30—that the state of Vermont had suffered severe flooding and that the state had authorized in-stream gravel reclamation as well as stream bank stabilization from the east to west and the north to the south along Route 100.


Regardless of what position you take on gravel extraction from the river and meddling with the river’s ability to seek its own course, it’s beyond disconcerting to receive a violation notice so long after a natural disaster and the cleanup efforts.


If Waitsfield and all other affected Vermont towns are in trouble with the feds, then who owns the liability if financial sanctions are imposed?  If towns rely on state agencies to do post-flood work, can towns foist fines back on the state?


Or, is this really more of a jurisdictional turf war where the federal government is asserting jurisdiction after the fact? According to the state, in an emergency situation the state has the authority to issue what are general Army Corps of Engineers permits.


Monday morning quarterbacking says it might have made sense for the state and the feds to talk to each other before thousands of excavators rolled into the rivers.