1980s - The Land
How did Vermonters use the land in the 1980s?
The census shows that many people moved to Vermont in the 1970s. More new people came to Vermont between 1970 and 1980 than in any decade(time period of ten years) since 1800. These new people needed houses to live in and places to shop.
Tourists came to Vermont to ski. They wanted paved roads to the mountains. They bought houses near the ski resorts. Ski resorts cut down trees to build more trails for these skiers. Vermonters built restaurants and shops near the mountains so the skiers could eat and shop.
Vermont was known for being a state with many dairy farms. But in the 1980s, dairy farmers did not get paid much money when they sold their cows’ milk. In 1985, almost 200 farmers sold their cows and stopped being dairy farmers. Most people worked in businesses other than farming in 1980. But Vermonters and tourists liked to see farms and open fields in Vermont.
In the 1970s, Vermonters wanted to protect the environment. But they also wanted places to live and to shop. The government passed a new law called Act 250. This law required people to get permission before building new roads or buildings. Some Vermonters disagreed with Act 250. They were afraid people would stop building businesses in Vermont. But others think that Act 250 has helped make Vermont a better place.
Forty years ago, where people lived was changing. In 1980, Burlington’s population was smaller than in 1970. It was the opposite in Colchester. Colchester’s population was larger in 1980 than in 1970. Many people wanted to live in new houses near cities, but not in cities. Some Vermonters wanted to live in suburbs(places near or next to cities) like Colchester instead of cities like Burlington.
The changes that were happening forty years ago are still happening today. Look around your town. How has it changed since the 1980s? How has it stayed the same?
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
Act 250 helps Vermont control what the state will look like in the future. What do you want Vermont to look like in 40 years? How will the state change for the next generation?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Read the article Protecting Vermont's Air, Land and Water from Green Mountaineer Magazine
Try the activity The Battle for Vermont
How has Vermont's landscape changed? Explore historic photographs from the Landscape Change Program
Listen to the program Act 250, 1970 from Green Mountain Chronicles
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "1980s - The Land." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed December 4, 2023. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/land-use-in-the-1980s