On April 16, VIRGINIAforever hosted a group of University of Virginia and Randolph-Macon College students to participate in the UVA Bay Game alongside VIRGINIAforever board members and staff. The Bay Game, a large-scale participatory simulation based on the Chesapeake Bay watershed, allows players to take the roles of stakeholders, such as farmers, developers, watermen, and local policy-makers. Each player makes decisions about their livelihoods or regulatory authority and, through computer simulation, sees the impact on their own personal finances, the regional economy and watershed health. Learn more about the game here. See additional photographs from the game here, and read a Richmond Times-Dispatch article about VIRGINIAforever’s participation in the game here.
Wildlife Foundation of Virginia Receives 2015 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. In April, the Virginia Tree Farm Committee of the American Tree Farm System awarded the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia (WFV) Virginia’s Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year for 2015. WFV joins a long list of Virginia landowners who carefully look after their forestland and manage acreage to meet or exceed the high standards required by the American Forest Foundation and the American Tree Farm System. This award recognizes WFV’s outstanding contributions to good forest management, including wildlife, recreation and clean water. The award was presented to Jenny West, WFV executive director and VIRGINIAforever executive board member, at the 2015 Virginia Forestry Summit in Charlottesville, Va. Learn more about WFV at http://vawildlife.org/.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Receives Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award. Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the winners of the 2015 Governor’s Environmental Excellent Awards at the 26th Environment Virginia Symposium in Lexington, Va. Among the winners was VIRGINIAforever member the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which received a Gold Medal for its work on the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Va., which is one of the most energy efficient, environmentally smart buildings in the world. Award winners were chosen based on criteria including environmental benefit, stakeholder involvement, public outreach, transferability and innovativeness. The awards are sponsored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Additional information on the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.
VIRGINIAforever is pleased to welcome Katie Frazier of the Virginia Agribusiness Council as our newest member. The Virginia Agribusiness Council is a non-profit member organization committed to representing the agriculture and forest industries in the Commonwealth with a unified voice through effective government relations efforts. Katie, who serves as a VIRGINIAforever general board member, is currently president of the Virginia Agribusiness Council and previously served as the executive director for the Virginia Grain Producers Association and Virginia Wine Council. Please join us in welcoming Katie to VIRGINIAforever.
On June 11, David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, was presented with the Gerald P. McCarthy Award for leadership in environmental conflict resolution, an award given annually to an individual who fosters collaboration and has taken a leadership role in preserving and protecting Virginia’s environment. The award was presented at the Class of 2015 graduation ceremony of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute (VNRLI), a program for emerging leaders confronted with Virginia’s most pressing natural resource issues who seek new skills in conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving.
Mr. Paylor was nominated for the award by Carol Wampler on behalf of VIRGINIAforever, and the submission was supported with letters of endorsement from Bob Dunn, VIRGINIAforever chair, and Dennis Treacy, VIRGINIAforever executive board member and executive vice president and chief sustainability officer of Smithfield Foods. The nomination highlighted Mr. Paylor as a role model to others for bringing stakeholders together to resolve environmental issues in Virginia’s communities, organizations, within DEQ and Virginia’s other state agencies.
Paylor was appointed director of DEQ by Governor Terry McAuliffe in January 2014 and previously was appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell in 2010. He originally was appointed director by Governor Timothy Kaine in 2006. Paylor’s career began in 1973 with the State Water Control Board and continued with DEQ.
Throughout the spring, Governor Terry McAuliffe took several notable actions related to land conservation and sustainability of natural resources in Virginia. In March, he announced the protection of 65 acres of Civil War battlefield in Williamsburg. The land was donated by Anheuser-Busch to the Civil War Trust, the largest nonprofit organization devoted to preserving America’s battlegrounds. The property played a pivotal role in the 1862 Battle of Williamsburg. The Civil War Trust hopes the property will be the anchor for a future battlefield park. In the meantime, the Williamsburg Land Conservancy, a local land trust, will oversee the site. The Civil War Trust has preserved more than 40,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. More than half of the acres preserved are in Virginia.
In April, Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order establishing the Virginia Environmental Literacy Challenge. The voluntary challenge will provide a pathway for classroom teachers and school division administrators to engage students in outdoor experiences and school sustainability projects that improve their understanding of the environment. The voluntary challenge recognizes and highlights the efforts of classroom teachers and school divisions that go above and beyond in the teaching of environmental literacy. It has two components: the Conservation Classroom Challenge and the Environmental Literacy Challenge for Systemic Sustainability.
Also in April, the governor announced the launch of Virginia Treasures, the Commonwealth’s new strategy for conserving land and expanding access to public outdoor recreation. The administration’s goal is to identify, conserve and protect at least 1,000 treasures by the end of the governor’s term. Criteria for what constitutes a treasure have been developed by the Commonwealth’s natural resources staff. Treasures could fall into one of two defined categories: land conservation or natural, cultural and recreational.