© 2010 Jillian Chilson
About CBF's Virginia Office
Since opening the Virginia office in the early 1980s, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been leading the efforts to Save the Bay™ in the Old Dominion through environmental advocacy, education, science, policy, litigation, and restoration. Today, CBF boasts offices in Richmond and Norfolk, field staff in Charlottesville and the Eastern Shore, an oyster restoration center in Gloucester, and six outdoor environmental education programs across the state. Our efforts are focused on ensuring Virginia meets its 2025 Bay cleanup goals to reduce pollution from sewage treatment plants, farms, and urban and suburban stormwater runoff.
Photo by Chuck Epes/CBF Staff
Assembly OKs Priority Funding and Menhaden Measures
The Virginia General Assembly approved significant CBF-priority measures during its 2013 session: $216 million in additional state funding for clean water projects and legislation to better protect Atlantic menhaden.
The new state funding will help Virginia localities upgrade their sewage treatment plants, better manage stormwater runoff, and invest in other sewer and water infrastructure projects. The additional dollars not only will help reduce water pollution, flooding, beach closures, and hikes in local utility rates; cleaner water also will provide a better quality of life for Virginians and greater economic, tourism, and recreational opportunities for everyone.
Especially important is $106 million in grants to help localities install nutrient-reduction technology in wastewater plants. Treated sewage wastewater is among the larger sources of excess nitrogen and phosphorus plaguing the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers. In excess amounts, these nutrients contribute to the Bay's infamous dead zones of oxygen-starved water and to the depletion of vital underwater grasses. Installing the modern technology to reduce those pollutants in wastewater is a major priority for Virginia and the Bay region. The additional state funding helps keep Virginia on course to meet its Bay Clean Water Blueprint goals for the next several years.
Also critical is $35 million in new state funding to help localities better manage urban stormwater runoff, a growing pollution threat to waterways everywhere and another priority of Virginia's Bay Blueprint.
The money represents the biggest investment in clean water by Virginia in several years, and CBF congratulates legislators and the administration of Gov. Bob McDonnell for their good work in support of water quality and the Chesapeake Bay.
Lawmakers also overwhelmingly approved a CBF-backed measure that will better protect the Bay's Atlantic menhaden population. The legislation reduces the menhaden catch in Virginia waters by 20 percent, bringing the Commonwealth into compliance with a coast-wide menhaden conservation plan approved last year. The action protects menhaden and the livelihoods of hundreds of hardworking watermen who depend upon the menhaden fishery in Virginia.
Oyster replenishment and restoration also received a $2 million boost from the legislature. This will help speed the return of native oysters to the Bay and benefit Virginia's seafood economy.
These successes could not have been achieved without the help of dedicated CBF members and friends whose calls, emails, and letters to legislators made the difference. CBF thanks you!
Pleasure House Point
An early conceptual rendering of CBF's new environmental education and community center at Pleasure House Point.
CBF's "Living Building" Education Center Gets Green Light
The Virginia Beach City Council on December 11, 2012, voted to approve a Conditional Use Permit for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) to construct what will be the most environmentally sustainable building in Virginia, located at Pleasure House Point. The city council's action clears the way for CBF to move forward with the Brock Environmental Center, named in honor of Macon and Joan Brock of Virginia Beach, who provided a $3.5 million leadership gift toward the $20 million project. The new facility will be built on a small section of a 10-acre parcel that CBF is purchasing from the Trust For Public Land—part of a 118-acre-track of dunes, marsh, and trees acquired in July 2012 by the City of Virginia Beach for conservation and recreation.
The CBF Brock Environmental Center is being designed to meet the Living Building Challenge™, a rare designation that requires that the building be so in tune with its site 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. As such, the center would be the first of its kind in Virginia and among only 18 prospective Living Buildings on the East Coast. (Learn more about the Living Building Challenge on the ILFI's website ilbi.org/lbc)
The center will house office space for CBF and local conservation partner Lynnhaven River NOW, include space for community meetings, and serve CBF's award-winning environmental education program which provides outdoor watershed experiences for 2,500 students and teachers across Hampton Roads each year.
Groundbreaking for the CBF Brock Environmental Center is slated for late summer 2013 with a target completion date of autumn 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.
Twelve years ago, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation lead by example by building the first LEED Platinum certified building in the world for its headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland, the Philip Merrill Environmental Center. CBF looks forward to taking a leadership role again with its vision for this remarkably green facility for Hampton Roads.
CBF aims to have a ground-breaking ceremony for its center in the spring or summer of 2013. Check our website regularly for more progress reports.
For more information about Pleasure House Point contact CBF's Hampton Roads office at 757-622-1964.
CBF's Virginia educators, including Ken Slayzk pictured here, were recognized for their commitment to high-quality environmental education. Photo by CBF Staff
CBF Wins Environmental Education Award
Congratulations to CBF's Virginia environmental educators!
Eight members of the Virginia team in CBF's Education Department were recently awarded certificates of recognition by the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Doug Domenech. The educators were praised for their commitment to providing high-quality environmental education combined with their exemplary professional skills and training.
Each educator documented skills in public speaking and writing, knowledge of pedagogy (i.e. learning styles, target audience assessments, and group processes), knowledge of natural sciences and systems, and an awareness of environmental issues related to place. Accepting the awards on behalf of the Virginia educators were Gwen Pearson, CBF Virginia General Manager for Education, and Bill Portlock, Senior Educator. Most of the team was unable to attend the ceremony because they were in the field, appropriately, working with students while conducting their award–winning field studies on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, which includes much of Virginia.
The educators recognized were Gwen Pearson, Eric Weigandt, Brooke Newton Cash, Yancy Powell, Jimmy Sollner, Allan Thomson, Ken Slayzk, and Bill Portlock. (Also included was Rob Dorbad, who is no longer with CBF.)
Meet our Virginia educators.
ODEC's Proposed Cypress Creek Power Plant
Map showing location of proposed ODEC power plant. Lucidity Information Design
Plans for Coal Plant Suspended
CBF remains cautiously optimistic about an announcement on August 8, 2012 that plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Surry County have been suspended. According to recent statements, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to cease the permitting process needed for the plant to proceed. CBF hopes ODEC officials stand true to these statements. If they do, it will be a great win for the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers and streams and the citizens of Hampton Roads who have so vigorously opposed the facility.
As proposed, the plant would have been the largest coal-fired power plant in Virginia and, by ODEC's own accounts, emit millions of pounds of nitrogen oxides (smog-causing chemicals) and carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas), as well as soot, mercury, lead, benzene, and other toxic air pollutants.
Read the CBF report, "A Coal Plant's Drain on Health and Wealth," which explains the impact ODEC's plant would have had if the plant had been built.
Numerous human health organizations, environmental groups, nearby localities, and hundreds of local citizens have publicly opposed the plant due to its likely harmful environmental, economic, and human health impacts on the Hampton Roads region. CBF broadly applauds their unyielding opposition.
ODEC's continued ownership of the property where the plant was proposed and changes in local zoning authority from Sussex County, Surry County, and the Town of Dendron, leave unresolved questions about what will happen next. CBF hopes that a usage of the property can be found that can benefit both the economy and environment of the region.
For now, we are grateful for this apparent victory! CBF will continue to closely monitor any future permitting actions associated with the property.
See the sidebar for more information and read our report, "A Coal Plant's Drain on Health and Wealth."
CBF educator Eric Weigandt introduces students to a denizen of the Bay during a field experience. Photo by CBF Staff.
Urbanna Oysters and Education Partnership Thriving
Since the late 1990s, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Virginia education program has been involved with the Urbanna Oyster Festival. A partnership between CBF and the Festival's Marine Science Legacy Program (MSLP) began in Urbanna under a tent during the Festival's Education Day. We had a booth with aquariums and crabs for all the students to see and handle. Thanks to a great partnership and community support, the program has continued to grow.
Since 2007, we have been fortunate to provide environmental educational experiences on Urbanna Creek and the Rappahannock River, most recently aboard our education vessel, Bea Hayman Clark. Through the help of the MSLP we are able to provide field investigations for Middlesex County and Christchurch School students.
Vera England, previous Marine Science Legacy Coordinator, said the program makes students "really excited about learning" and that the hands-on experience makes a big difference in the classroom. "It's not just something in a textbook anymore," she explained, "it is something that they have touched and seen." (From Southside Sentinel Newspaper Website, Urbanna, Va. October 20, 2010)
These field experiences are matched to the Virginia Standards of Learning and meet the criteria for a "meaningful watershed educational experience" (PDF, 0.45 MB, 2pgs) as set by the Chesapeake 2000 agreement and Chesapeake Bay Program. During the field investigations, students learn about the history, culture, and ecology of Urbanna Creek and the Rappahannock River. Students discover their watershed address, how their actions impact water quality and its effect on local watermen communities, and what they can do at home to make a difference. Activities include towing a trawl net, fishing crab pots, and dredging for oysters to learn about ecosystems and biodiversity in the river.
These experiences expose many students to the water for the very first time. The teachers are able to teach about their local river since the experiences are coordinated with their curriculum in the classroom. It is CBF's goal that environmental education will inspire the next generation to "Save the Bay™."