Q2 2016 Newsletter

Q2 2016 Newsletter

VIRGINIAforever Legislative Update: Building on Momentum

The 2016 General Assembly session yielded a number of significant positive outcomes for land conservation and water quality improvement funding in the Commonwealth. In total, there was more than $200 million invested in land conservation and water quality initiatives. To build on this momentum, VIRGINIAforever members and staff are working diligently throughout the summer months to identify potential budget challenges and goals for the 2017 session. We are putting forth considerable effort to meet with members of the administration, budget decision makers and a wide audience of state legislators during this “off-season” time. As we conduct these meetings, we will reiterate our appreciation for the hard work and negotiation that resulted in record appropriations for critical land and water projects during the most recent session. We are also beginning to preview our priorities for the 2017 session, which include renewed emphasis on money to be committed to the Virginia Land Conservation Fund, Stormwater Local Assistance Fund and Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs). We also want to continue to highlight our state parks’ needs. Stay tuned for a formal 2017 legislative agenda that will be released later this year.

VIRGINIAforever Chairman Appointed to Chesapeake Bay Commission

Dennis Treacy, chairman of VIRGINIAforever and president of the Smithfield Foundation, has been appointed to serve on the Chesapeake Bay Commission (CBC). The commission is a tri-state legislative commission created in 1980 to advise the members of the General Assemblies of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania on matters of Bay-wide concern. The commission serves as the legislative arm of the multi-jurisdictional Chesapeake Bay Program and acts in an advisory capacity to their respective General Assemblies. Twenty-one members from three states comprise the Commission. Fifteen of the members are legislators, five each from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Completing the ranks are cabinet secretaries from each state who are directly responsible for managing their states’ natural resources, as well as three citizen representatives who bring with them a unique perspective and expertise. Dennis will serve as the Virginia citizen member. Read the commission’s press release here and learn more about the commission here.

Welcome New VIRGINIAforever Member: Virginia Forestry Association

VIRGINIAforever is pleased to welcome the Virginia Forestry Association (VFA) as our newest member. Paul Howe, executive director of VFA, will serve on the VIRGINIAforever general board and participate in advocacy activities through our legislative committee. VFA was founded in 1943 and is a non-profit, privately supported organization with the purpose of encouraging wise use of forest resources in the Commonwealth for present and future generations. VFA members are forest landowners, foresters, forest products businesses, loggers, forestry consultants and a variety of individuals and groups who are concerned about the future well-being of Virginia’s forest resource. VFA is dedicated to sustaining, developing, protecting, and promoting the forests and related resources of Virginia. Learn more about VFA here.

Coming Soon: VIRGINIAforever to Go Live on Facebook

In an effort to tell the VIRGINIAforever story to a broader audience, a VIRGINIAforever Facebook page will be launched later this summer. The Facebook page, which will be our first social media property, will feature news and announcements related to natural resources funding in the Commonwealth as well as VIRGINIAforever member news, legislative updates and event information. Stay tuned for an announcement with a link to the page. We hope you will take time to “like” us and will share the page with your colleagues and friends.

Focus on the Bay: Marking the First Annual Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week

The legislatures of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia declared June 4 – 12 to be Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. To commemorate the week, people were encouraged to participate in events, activities and educational programs designed to increase awareness of the bay. The week began with Virginia’s Clean the Bay Day on June 4 and concluded on the second Saturday in June, with the annual Patuxent River Wade-in, begun decades ago by Bernie Fowler, former Maryland state senator and longtime Bay advocate. To read about activities that took place during the first annual Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, including Virginia Senator Emmett Hanger’s efforts to keep livestock out of streams, see this article in Bay Journal.

VIRGINIAforever Chair and Vice Chair Co-author Op-ed on Earth Day

To commemorate Earth Day, Dennis Treacy, chair of VIRGINIAforever and president of the Smithfield Foundation, and Nikki Rovner, vice chair of VIRGINIAforever and associate state director for external affairs with The Nature Conservancy, co-authored an op-ed published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The op-ed, titled “The commonwealth contributes much to protecting the environment,” acknowledges the significant role that the state government plays in appropriating funds to protect our land and water. Nikki and Dennis also express appreciation to the Governor and state legislators for the significant funds allocated to land and water projects during the 2016 session, including $59 million for the Water Quality Improvement Fund so that the state can assist localities with upgrading wastewater treatment plants; $20 million for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund to share costs with local governments for critical storm water projects; $60 million for agricultural best management practices to help farmers reduce runoff from animal operations and crop lands; $20 million for land conservation for preservation of open-space lands and parks, natural areas, farmlands, historic lands and battlefields; and $41 million in bonds for infrastructure Virginia state parks. Read the op-ed here.

Natural Resources News from the Administration

Below find a compilation of recent natural resources news issued by the Governor’s office and the Secretary of Natural Resources.

  • On June 15, Governor Terry McAuliffe celebrated 80 years of Virginia State Parks and the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service at Westmoreland State Park, one of the original six Virginia State Parks opened on this date in 1936. According to Governor McAuliffe, “Virginia’s State Parks are some of the best kept and most beautiful parks in the country, and these anniversaries are a testament to the Commonwealth’s century-old commitment to our natural resources and the great outdoors.” Read more here.
  • The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) announced on May 3 the purchase of over 2,600 acres of land in eastern New Kent County. This acquisition, approved by the VDGIF board for the price of $9.3 million dollars, includes more than 2 miles of frontage on the York River in addition to 5 miles along the Ware and Philbates creeks. The property contains substantial tidal and upland wildlife habitat and will be a significant addition to the VDGIF’s Wildlife Management Area system. Read more here.
  • Governor McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe announced that the Executive Mansion received the Virginia Green Certification in recognition of its recently reduced environmental impact. The award was given by the Secretary of Natural Resources and representatives from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) at an Earth Day reception celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, 80th Anniversary of the Virginia State Parks, and the 50th Anniversaries of the Virginia Outdoors Foundations and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Read more here.