Q4 2017 Newsletter

Q4 2017 Newsletter

VIRGINIAforever Announces Officers, Welcomes New Executive Board Members

At the annual business meeting on December 18, VIRGINIAforever elected officers to serve on the organization’s leadership committee.  Kendall Tyree (Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts) was elected vice chair. This role was previously filled by Nikki Rovner (The Nature Conservancy).  Pamela Faggert (Dominion Energy) was elected secretary/treasurer.  This role was previously filled by Brooks Smith (Troutman Sanders). Matt Wells (WestRock) and Nikki Rovner were both elected to serve as at-large members of the leadership committee. Dennis Treacy (Smithfield Foods) will continue to serve as chair of VIRGINIAforever; this is his second year of a two-year term.  Bob Dunn also continues his tenure on the leadership committee as immediate past chairman. Congratulations to each of these members and thank you for your service to VIRGINIAforever.

VIRGINIAforever also elected two individuals to serve on the organization’s executive board. We welcome Ron Jefferson of Appalachian Power Company, who is new to VIRGINIAforever, and Katie Frazier of the Virginia Agribusiness Council, who has been involved with VIRGINIAforever for several years in her role as a member of the organization’s general board. Welcome, Ron and Katie!

VIRGINIAforever-supported Study Finds Virginia Spends About One Percent of Available State Revenues on Natural Resources

With support from the Virginia Environmental Endowment, VIRGINIAforever commissioned Fiscal Analytics to conduct a study of trends in Virginia natural resources funding over the last five years. The results are sobering. Even though there have been landmark investments in land conservation and water quality, those events were isolated to a few, certain years. The trend in overall natural resources spending is downward. The study found that Virginia has been spending about one percent of available state revenues on natural resources, ranking near the bottom when compared to other states. VIRGINIAforever’s summary and assessment of the report can be found here and the full report can be viewed here.

Legislative Update: Preview of VIRGINIAforever’s Priorities for 2018 General Assembly Session

Each year during the Virginia General Assembly session, VIRGINIAforever advocates for critical state funds to protect the land and waterways of the Commonwealth. In the case of FY19, we recognize the Commonwealth is facing significant budget demands. We are ready to work closely with the state’s policymakers to identify opportunities that balance the Commonwealth’s current financial needs with ongoing needs to protect our precious natural resources. To this end, VIRGINIAforever seeks to work with Virginia’s policymakers to identify a dedicated source of funding for land and water protection. In the short term, we are focusing on the following minimum FY19 appropriation goals:

  • $50M for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) to restore streams and install practices to reduce urban runoff
  • $62M for Agriculture Best Management Practices (BMPs) cost share and technical assistance to help farmers reduce agriculture runoff
  • $20M for land conservation grant programs to conserve farmland, forests, wildlife habitat and historic places

Please consider how you can help support these important objectives. For more information on VIRGINIAforever’s advocacy activities, contact Preston Bryant at pbryant@mwcllc.com.

Congratulations to Delegate Cox, VIRGINIAforever’s 2017 Bridge Builder Recipient

Each year, VIRGINIAforever holds its Bridge Builder Celebration in Richmond to recognize outstanding stewards of Virginia’s natural resources.  The 2017 Bridge Builder Award was presented on October 11 to House Speaker-designee Kirk Cox for his leadership in the protection of natural resources.  The event, which was headlined by the two gubernatorial candidates and emceed by Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, drew a crowd of more than 150 people including elected and appointed officials as well as members of the natural resources community. Congratulations to Delegate Cox on his much-deserved award!

VIRGINIAforever Hosts Receptions for Senate Finance & House Appropriations Committees

As part of our year-round advocacy efforts, VIRGINIAforever sponsored receptions during the Senate Finance Natural Resources Subcommittee’s retreat in Hampton Roads at Fort Monroe and the House Appropriations Committee retreat on the campus of Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk.  Legislators who serve on these committees are faced with important decisions on how to fund land conservation and water quality improvement projects in Virginia.  VIRGINIAforever appreciates the opportunity to have face-time with this important group of decision makers.

Chesapeake Bay Commission Releases Policy Report on Agriculture Technical Assistance

On November 9, the tristate legislative Chesapeake Bay Commission released its new policy report on agriculture technical assistance. Titled “Boots on the Ground: Improving Technical Assistance for Farmers,” the Commission’s report is the first Bay-wide effort documenting the escalating need for more technical assistance to guide farmers in planning and installing pollution control practices.  As noted by Commission Chairman State Representative Garth Everett (R-PA), “With the overwhelming amount of reliance on agriculture to help clean up the Bay, there simply aren’t enough ‘boots on the ground’ to provide the help needed to farmers to get the job done.”  For copies of the report, or for further information, please contact Ann Jennings at ajennings@chesbay.us or (804) 786-4849.

Reminder: “Like” VIRGINIAforever on Facebook!

VIRGINIAforever is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ourlandourwater. “Like” our page to stay in touch about VIRGINIAforever announcements as well as natural resources funding news from across the Commonwealth.  You are encouraged to “share” and “comment” on our content.

Natural Resources News Briefs

Governor McAuliffe Announces Nearly $12.5 Million in Land Conservation Grants. Governor McAuliffe announced nearly $12.5 million in grants from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) to nine projects. The awards will protect almost 4,000 historically significant acres and fund new interpretive tools at multiple sites. A grant to the Chickahominy Indian Tribe will support the acquisition of tribal lands along the James River, known to them as the Powhatan. This land, to be permanently protected under a conservation easement, will be the first held by the Chickahominy on one of its home rivers in centuries. Read more here.

James River Health Improves 10 Points in 10 Years. The James River Association’s biennial State of the James report, a comprehensive assessment of the health of the river, was released in late October, showing the overall health of the James at a grade of “B-“in 2017. The overall score for the river rose to 62%, which represents an increase of 10 points since the report was first published in 2007 and 3 points over the past two years. Read more here.

Governor McAuliffe Announces Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the convening of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first Environmental Justice Advisory Council (EJAC). The EJAC, established by Executive Order 73, will provide advice and recommendations to the Executive Branch on ways in which environmental justice should be incorporated in decision-making. Environmental Justice is the principle that no community or individual should bear disproportionate impacts from pollution.  Read more here.