Q4 2018 Newsletter

Q4 2018 Newsletter

Governor Northam Proposed New Investments in Natural Resources

Includes significant long-term funding commitment for Ag BMPs, stormwater pollution controls

By Preston Bryant, VIRGINIAforever lobbyist

The 2019 General Assembly convenes on January 9 and is scheduled to adjourn on February 23. This is the so-called “short session,” where principal focus is often less on major policy changes on more on budget amendments.

Governor Northam has proposed budget amendments that significantly invest in natural resources. His focus is on water quality and land conservation.

Budget proposals to improve water quality include $90 million per year in each of the next five years for the agricultural best management practices (BMPs) cost-share program, technical staff assistance in implementing the BMPs, and other non-point source water quality programs, and $50 million per year for the next five years for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund to assist local governments in planning and constructing stormwater control infrastructure. This amounts to nearly $775 million in state water quality improvements from FY2020 through FY2024.

It also should be noted that SLAF is a dollar-for-dollar match program. The proposed $250 million state investment will have to be matched by local governments, thus creating $500 million for stormwater infrastructure over the next five years.

Additionally, the Water Quality Improvement Fund received $73 million for point-source and certain other non-point source investments.

The governor also proposed $25 million in state financial assistance for the City of Alexandria’s combined sewer overflow project, which will dramatically reduce pollution into the Potomac River during heavy rainfall events.

The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation is slated to receive $5.5 million in FY2019 and $5.5 million in FY2020. VLCF will make $11 million in grants to preserve open-space lands, farmlands, forests, and historic properties.

VIRGINIAforever worked with Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, as well as their key state agency directors, during 2018 to identify opportunities for strategic investments in water quality and land conservation.

Additionally, Governor Northam is proposing an additional $2.5 million in Department of Environmental Quality staffing to better regulate and enforce water quality standards.

VIRGINIAforever Holds Annual Budget Briefing on Natural Resources Funding


VIRGINIAforever held its annual Budget Briefing on December 17 at McGuireWoods in downtown Richmond.  The event included presentations by Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality David Paylor, Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Clyde Cristman, and Director of Finance and Planning for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Darin Moore. Many other agency representatives and state officials attended, in addition to VIRGINIAforever board members. Thank you to the presenters for a terrific funding overview and informative question and answer period.

VIRGINIAforever Leadership & Member Update

VIRGINIAforever held its annual member meeting in December, which included officer elections and a membership update. Congratulations to Matt Wells of WestRock, who will assume the position of Secretary/Treasurer effective January 1. Many thanks to Pam Faggert of Dominion Energy for her service in this role. Also, congratulations to Kyle Shreve of the Virginia Agribusiness Council who will become an at-large member of the Leadership Committee.  Dennis Treacy (chair), Kendall Tyree of the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (vice chair) and Nikki Rovner (at-large) will each continue in their roles.

It was announced that we’re welcoming two new emeritus members – Bob Dunn, who is a past chair of VIRGINIAforever, and Henry Long, a past Secretary/Treasurer.  They both served with distinction for many years on the executive board.

Additionally, the member development committee shared that the following joined the general board in 2018:

  • Hobey Bauhan of Virginia Poultry Federation
  • Pat Coady of Seale & Associates
  • Carrie Dorsey of the Garden Club of Virginia
  • Katie Frazier now with Farm Credit of the Virginias
  • Adrienne Kotula now as individual member
  • Mike Rolband of Wetland Studies & Solutions
  • Ellen Shepard of VAULT
  • Ginny Snead now with AMT Engineering

Interested in becoming a member of VIRGINIAforever?  Email info@virginiaforever.org.

In Case You Missed It:  VIRGINIAforever Applauds Governor Northam’s Proposal to Make Major Investments to Protect Virginia’s Water Quality and Accelerate Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Earlier this month, after Governor Northam announced proposed major investments to protect Virginia’s water quality, VIRGINIAforever issued the following statement of support:

VIRGINIAforever, an organization dedicated solely to advocating for increased state funds for water quality and land conservation, strongly applauds today’s announcement by Governor Ralph Northam, which includes the largest Bay-related proposed appropriation by a sitting Virginia Governor. This effort is welcome news, shows the true dedication of this administration to the environment, and is a significant first step towards our stated goal of increasing Virginia’s overall commitment to natural resources of less than 1 percent to more than 2 percent of the state budget.

VIRGINIAforever chairman Dennis Treacy asked that all VIRGINIAforever supporters join him in thanking the Governor and his administration for this strong commitment.

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 and Announcements from the Administration

  •  Governor Northam Announces Department of Forestry to Receive Federal Grant to Assist in Water Quality Efforts.  On December 6, Governor Northam announced that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is providing a grant of $850,000 for a regional multi-state proposal led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for water quality efforts in several localities within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), in cooperation with other key partners such as local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, will lead these efforts in the Shenandoah Valley through riparian forest buffers and other innovative livestock stream exclusion practices. Read more here.
  • Governor Northam Announces Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Planning Grant Awarded to Shenandoah County. On December 4, Governor Northam announced a grant for Shenandoah County from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to help develop a new economic development strategic plan. The AFID planning grant program incentivizes local governments to promote agriculture and forestry and incorporate the needs of these industries into their overall economic development efforts. The $10,000 award leverages an additional $25,000 in local funds needed to complete the robust new plan.  Read more here.
  • Governor Northam Celebrates Grand Opening of Virginia’s 38th State Park. On November 8, Governor Northam officially opened Widewater State Park in Stafford County, the Commonwealth’s 38th state park. Widewater State Park covers 1,100 acres, including two miles of water frontage along the Potomac River and Aquia Creek. The property was originally purchased by Dominion Energy as a site for a proposed power plant. The property was later approved for development of 700 residential units, a resort conference center and extensive infrastructure. Dominion sold the property for $1 million less than the assessed value in 2013. The Trust for Public Land and Stafford County assisted in the transaction. Read more here.