Hampton Roads, Virginia
CBF's lively on-the-water interactive education programs impact thousands of students and teachers each year. Photo by CBF Staff
About CBF's Hampton Roads Office
You don't have to travel far in Hampton Roads before you see water. The region is home to several rivers and numerous creeks which have shaped one of the largest natural harbors in the world. CBF has been active in this region since launching an education program in 1983. CBF's first Hampton Roads office opened in 1985 and environmental restoration and protection efforts began in 1990.
Working with other environmental organizations, federal grants, state and municipal partners plus hundreds of dedicated volunteers, CBF's Hampton Roads staff works diligently to improve the health of numerous waterways from the Middle Peninsula to Virginia Beach including: the York, Piankatank, James, Lafayette, Nansemond and Lynnhaven rivers. Currently we also have a specific focus on Norfolk's Lafayette River, in partnership with the Elizabeth River Project, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and many other community partners.
Although the annual Clean the Bay Day litter removal event is one of the most well-known project, office and field staff are also busy year 'round with oyster restoration, education programs, volunteer training, pollution prevention, underwater grasses, fisheries advocacy, communications and organizational support. Like CBF's other offices, our work is centered around ensuring that Virginia meets its pollution reduction goals by 2025, through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Stormwater runoff presents the biggest challenge to that effort in this highly developed urban/suburban region.
Photo by Chuck Epes/CBF Staff
CBF's 2014 Virginia Legislative Priorities
Clean Water: An Ecological, Public Health, and Economic Priority
Virginians have long depended upon the state's many streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay for inspiration, recreation, drinking water, seafood, and jobs. However, today more than 13,000 miles of Virginia waterways and most of the Chesapeake Bay are polluted, posing serious threats to public health, the environment, and the state's economy.
Virginia's elected leaders have a heightened responsibility and an extraordinary opportunity to restore clean water to Virginia by implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, a restoration and implementation plan, with benchmarks and consequences, that will help the Bay states reach the finish line when it comes to cleaning up the Bay and local tributaries. Virginia has committed to implementing 60 percent of the Blueprint by 2017. This will require aggressively reducing pollution from all its sources, including runoff from agricultural land as well as from urban and suburban streets, lawns, and buildings. Virginia also must take steps to restore important commercial fisheries, such as oysters and Atlantic menhaden, and ensure that Virginia students, our next generation of leaders, are environmentally literate.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's priorities for the 2014 legislative session are:
Reduce Polluted Runoff through Dedicated State Funding for
Localities and Robust Control Measures
Polluted runoff from streets, parking lots, and rooftops is the only major nutrient and sediment pollution source that is increasing. To reverse this trend, Virginia's Clean Water Blueprint commits to several important control initiatives.
- The General Assembly must resist calls to delay implementation of new stormwater regulations slated to come online in July 2014. Legislation calling for the regulations was passed by the Assembly a decade ago; regulations were developed over a five-year period by a diverse stakeholder body; postponements occurred in 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2013; two years ago, localities were assigned management of the program, and each locality was granted a year's extension beyond the initial program deadline. Some are now seeking to postpone full implementation for yet another year or more.
- The General Assembly should refuse to weaken Virginia's comprehensive stormwater management program. Some now seek to remove permit provisions requiring contractors to ensure proper runoff control after project construction. This would result in a less protective permit and reduced effectiveness for the overall program. Contractors must be required to design projects that meet Virginia's stormwater management rules and not simply control polluted runoff just during actual construction.
- The General Assembly should insure that the 2015 budget supplements available funding to provide a total of $50 million for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund for matching grants to assist localities in reducing urban polluted runoff. These grants will enable localities to retrofit stormwater ponds, restore streams, plant buffers, utilize pervious pavement, and implement other low-impact development projects.
Fund for Farm Cost-Share Programs to
Ensure Pollution-Reduction Goals Are Achieved
Agriculture, Virginia's largest land use, remains the largest source of Bay pollution. Farmers have implemented measures to slow erosion and keep manure and fertilizer out of waterways, but Virginia has much work ahead to meet its pollution reduction commitments. Virginia must provide reliable funding for agricultural cost-share programs, which create local jobs, enhance farm productivity, and improve water quality cost-effectively.
Action needed: The General Assembly should support the efforts of the Virginia Farm Bureau working to secure a total of $30 million each year of the biennial budget to fund agricultural best management practices and technical assistance.
Advance Oyster Restoration and Expand Sustainable Oyster Harvests
Oysters cannot restore the Chesapeake Bay, but the Bay will never be restored without a vibrant oyster population. Oysters filter Bay water and oyster reefs provide food and habitat for hundreds of marine creatures. Overharvesting, pollution, and disease decimated oysters, but in recent years, oysters have shown signs of recovery. The oyster industry once supported thousands of jobs and added many millions to the economy. Oysters can do so again—and more—if Virginia builds on efforts to grow the fishery and boost restoration.
Action needed: The General Assembly should maintain the $2 million in funding for oyster replenishment in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 as provided for in Governor McDonnell's proposed budget and supplement that funding with an additional $1 million each year for oyster restoration.
Maintain Science-Based Menhaden Management
During the 2013 session, the General Assembly approved the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) new coastwide management plan that initiated restoration of the Atlantic menhaden population. However, the legislation included a sunset provision that effectively removes Virginia's management plan from state code on January 1, 2015. This threatens to leave the state without a plan to manage Virginia's largest fishery.
Action needed: In order to continue Virginia's stewardship of this important ecological and economic resource, the General Assembly must extend the sunset date to July 1, 2016.
Maintain Funding for Environmental Education
The future protection of Virginia's natural resources depends upon the next generation of Virginians. Environmental education increases student engagement in science and other subjects. It also provides students the knowledge and skills to become informed and responsible stewards and succeed in a 21st century workforce. Virginia must ensure today's students are prepared to address the complex environmental challenges they will face as future citizens, parents, voters, and leaders.
Action needed: The General Assembly should continue the Commonwealth's commitment to environmental education by maintaining $80,000 as proposed in Governor McDonnell's budget for fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
5 Critical Actions Virginia's Next Governor and Other Elected Leaders can take to help Save the Bay
CBF has identified five critical actions Virginia must take to reduce pollution, restore fisheries, and educate future leaders. Read More
Photo by Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor
Huge Majority of Virginians Back Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan
More than 90 percent of Virginia voters support the Commonwealth's plan to restore the Chesapeake Bay and want the next governor to move forward on implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the federal-state plan to restore the Bay, according to new bipartisan polling.
The Brock Environmental Center
at Pleasure House Point
A conceptual rendering of CBF's new environmental education and community center at Pleasure House Point. SmithGroupJJR
CBF's Brock Environmental Center to Begin Construction This Summer
Community interest and support for the Brock Environmental Center continue to gain momentum, as CBF's much-anticipated ultra-green environmental center is scheduled to break ground later this summer. Design plans have been finalized and fundraising is accelerating to build the most sustainable building in Virginia, one which raises the bar for green building construction nationwide. The Center is named in honor of Joan and Macon Brock of Virginia Beach, who generously provided a $3.5 million leadership gift toward the $20 million comprehensive project.
The Center is being designed to meet the Living Building Challenge™, a rare designation that requires that the building be so in tune with the environment that it has "net zero" impact on the surrounding land, air, and water. The Center will strive to meet a set of strict environmental standards established by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). As such, Brock Environmental Center would be the first of its kind in Virginia and among only 18 prospective Living Buildings on the East Coast. (Learn more about ILFI's Living Building Challenge.)
The Center will house offices for CBF and local conservation partner Lynnhaven River NOW, include space for community meetings, and serve as home base for CBF's award-winning environmental education programs in Hampton Roads, which provide outdoor watershed experiences for 2,500 students and teachers across Hampton Roads each year.
The Brock Environmental Center is being built by Hourigan Construction of Virginia Beach on a small section of the 10-acre parcel that CBF purchased from the Trust for Public Land.
The parcel is adjacent to a 108-acre-tract of dunes, marsh, and trees acquired in July 2012 by the City of Virginia Beach for a natural area, which will allow for conservation, recreation, and education on site. The City of Virginia Beach Pleasure House Point Natural Area will remain open to the public during construction. Perimeter safety fencing around the Brock Environmental Center construction zone will be removed once the facility is complete in mid-2014.
CBF hopes the new environmental education and community center will engage, inform, and inspire the Hampton Roads community to solve the Bay's challenges in innovative, sustainable, and collaborative ways.
Find out more about our vision for Pleasure House Point.
Green building is nothing new to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Twelve years ago, the organization led by example, building the first LEED Platinum certified building in the world—the Philip Merrill Environmental Center, CBF's headquarters in Annapolis, Md. CBF looks forward to again setting new standards with this world-class green facility in Hampton Roads.
To get the latest news about the Brock Environmental Center, check out What's New.
For more information about Pleasure House Point contact CBF's Hampton Roads office at 757-622-1964 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Teachers sift through underwater grasses on a recent professional development trip. Photo by CBF Staff
Virginia Beach, CBF Partner for Environmental Literacy
Through a unique public/private partnership, the Virginia Beach City Public Schools system has a new systemic environmental literacy program with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) that could be a model for school systems across the Bay region and the country. The program includes public, private, and non-profit partners. It provides hands-on Chesapeake Bay field experiences and classroom activities for all 11,500 sixth-grade students, as well as professional development for more than 50 middle and high school biology and oceanography teachers.
During the 2012 summer season, CBF worked with three different groups of teachers and administrators from Virginia Beach Public Schools to get them outside, experiencing the environment so they feel comfortable using it as their classroom. The Lynnhaven River is the backyard for many Virginia Beach residents, yet many don't know the major issues surrounding its poor water quality. These professional development courses not only introduce basic environmental concepts but also show teachers how the material naturally pairs with the Virginia Standards of Learning…and can be fun!
Any class is encouraged to join CBF on the water for field experiences with their students. The systemic environmental literacy program is designed to integrate environmental concepts with a multi-disciplinary approach so that all students find out more about taking action to save the Bay.
The partnership is funded by a $120,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Office, a $55,000 commitment from CSX Transportation, and a $12,700 grant from the Junior Virginia Beach Garden Club. Other partners are the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Lynnhaven River NOW, First Landing State Park, the Elizabeth River Project, and Oyster Reef Keepers of Virginia.