Photo by Chuck Epes/CBF Staff
2015 Virginia General Assembly Wrapup
Farming and a healthy farm economy play a critical role in local communities, in the social fabric of the region, and in the water quality of our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. Preserving farms and open space is essential, because these lands serve as precious natural filters for our water. CBF supports land use programs and policies that slow the loss of farmland and prevent sprawl.
But agricultural lands also contribute nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution to our rivers and streams. CBF continues to advocate for conservation programs to establish on-the-ground projects that limit polluting runoff: stream buffers, cover crops, rotational grazing, and other "best management practices."
These practices offer the least expensive options, and most bang for the buck, for improving water quality in our local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. More
Take a look at the successes local farmers are having improving water quality and efficiency on their farms.
Urban and suburban polluted runoff is the only major source of nitrogen pollution in the Bay still growing.
Virginia's Stormwater Local Assistance Fund went into effect July 1, 2014. It provides protections for clean water while meeting the needs of local governments.
Oyster harvests have bounced back, reaching almost one million bushels in 2013. Both the public and private fisheries are growing, and good survival rates are big news. State and federal efforts are focusing on creating healthy reef systems in target tributaries, an enlightened strategy that should be continued.
CBF's legislative priority was to ensure Virginia is on pace to meet its 2017 and 2025 nutrient- and sediment-reduction goals outlined in Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Thanks to you and our legislators, we made great strides toward that goal!
The Governor's proposed budget included $16 million for conservation funding to help farmers reduce polluted runoff. Thanks in large part to your efforts, the General Assembly added another $10.7 million, providing approximately $27 million for these critical conservation practices. This infusion is the most ever (non-surplus) funding to go to the agriculture community for cost-share programs and technical assistance.
We also successfully defeated attacks on Virginia's stormwater management program, which is critical to meeting Virginia's pollution-reduction goals.
And finally, CBF supported legislation that will help the burgeoning oyster fishery continue its upward trend. Legislation that increases the financial penalties for poaching from sanctuary and leased grounds will go into effect July 1, 2015.
Thank you for your support in reaching out to your legislators throughout the Session. We hope you will join us in thanking them for demonstrating their commitment to continuing to restore our local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.
Remember, CBF's report, The Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up the Chesapeake, finds that the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint (Blueprint) will increase natural benefits of the Bay and its rivers and streams to Virginia by $8.3 billion a year, or by 20 percent. A clean Bay just makes sense for Virginia's environment, public health, and economy.