State’s strong economy may aid in natural resources spending proposals
The 2019 General Assembly approved investments in Virginia’s natural resources, including $10 million for stormwater improvements, $4.5 million for land conservation, and $90 million for agricultural BMPs.
Since the legislature’s adjournment in late February, VIRGINIAforever board members and staff have continued meeting with state environmental agencies to discuss investment priorities for the 2020 General Assembly session. These meetings often have been in conjunction with VIRGINIAforever’s work to prepare a new Five-Year Strategic Plan.
Virginia’s economy remains strong – May’s unemployment rate was 3% – and state revenues are running ahead of projections. Last month’s General Fund revenues were up 22.5% over a year ago. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, revenues are up 7.9%, or more than double the 3.3% projection.
The state’s 2019 fiscal year ends on June 30. In July, Gov. Ralph Northam will report FY2019’s final results. If there is a year-end surplus, the Water Quality Improvement Fund will receive 10% of it.
In August, Northam will provide the General Assembly budget committees an update on Virginia’s economy as well as preliminary insights to his budget plans and other emerging policy priorities. The governor has pledged to make natural resources investments among his highest budget priorities.
VIRGINIAforever will meet this summer with the Northam administration to advocate for certain water quality, land conservation, agricultural BMP, and other environmental spending priorities.
Each year, VIRGINIAforever holds the Bridge Builder Celebration, which brings together the business and environmental communities to honor an individual who has demonstrated leadership in the protection of Virginia’s natural resources. Plans are quickly coming together for this year’s event, which will be held in the fall. Stay tuned for more information including a save-the-date. Sponsorship opportunities will be available. Learn about our past honorees here.
In the second quarter of 2019, VIRGINIAforever welcomed Tyson Foods to our executive board. Doug Baxter, who is the Area Environmental Manager at the company’s Glen Allen plant, will be Tyson’s representative to the board.
To learn more about becoming a member of VIRGINIAforever, contact Ginny Boland at email@example.com.
Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Announces Revised Criteria to Align Conservation Initiatives. Earlier this month, Governor Northam announced that the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) Board of Directors adopted new grant criteria and announced that grant applications are being accepted for the fiscal year 2020 grant cycle. A total of $5.27 million in grant funding is available for land acquisitions and protections in four categories: farmland and forest preservation, historic area preservation, natural area protection, and open spaces and parks. Read more here.
Governor Northam Designates May 19–25 as Virginia Agriculture Week. Governor Northam issued a proclamation declaring the week of May 19–25, 2019 as Virginia Agriculture Week in the Commonwealth. Throughout the week, the Governor and members of Northam administration visited sites across Virginia highlighting a variety of farming operations, agriculture research and technology, local food systems, and agribusinesses, as well as the agricultural sector’s enormous economic impact in the Commonwealth. Read more here.
Governor Northam Signs Executive Order Transferring Virginia Museum of Natural History to Secretary of Education. In May, Governor Northam signed Executive Order Thirty-One, transferring responsibility and oversight of the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) from the Secretary of Natural Resources to the Secretary of Education. Founded in 1984 and located in Martinsville, Virginia, the VMNH was established to investigate, preserve, and exhibit various elements of natural history found in Virginia and other parts of the United States and the world. The state museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, encourages and promotes research in the varied natural heritage of the Commonwealth and beyond. Read more here.
DEQ Awards $20 Million for Stormwater Enhancements. In April, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality awarded 15 localities across the commonwealth with $20 million from this year’s Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF). The SLAF program, managed by DEQ, provides matching grants to localities for improvement projects that implement cost-effective best management practices. This year’s awards will support 24 projects that will reduce water pollution across the state. Read more here.’
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