Virginia Update

From the Desk of Peggy Sanner

Fall 2021

Vote with the Bay in Mind

Virginians head to the polls this November to elect their next governor for a term that will stretch until 2025— the same year Bay states agreed to meet pollution-reduction targets under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. The final phase of Bay restoration will be the hardest. The incoming governor will help determine whether Virginia succeeds or fails in meeting its clean- water commitments.

Virginia must significantly accelerate investments in state programs that reduce pollution from agriculture, stormwater, and wastewater treatment plants. With that in mind, CBF is planning to work with both Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe to emphasize the importance of investing in clean water. CBF also held a panel discussion webinar in August on the many environmental issues that Virginia’s next governor will face.

For more information on Virginia’s path to clean water, visit

Helping Landowners Plant Trees in the Upper James Watershed

CBF has launched a three-year effort with landowners to plant 200 acres of trees along rivers and streams in the upper James River watershed. The program directly pays all costs for property owners to install forested buffers, which filter pollution, prevent erosion and flooding, and create habitat and food for wildlife.

Sarah Coffey, who joined CBF this year as a Virginia Agricultural Field Technician, is leading outreach to find planting sites. “For me, it’s all about working with landowners to make a plan that both supports their goals while reaping the many benefits of forested buffers,” Coffey said.

This project builds on successful ongoing work under the James River Buffer Program with partner James River Association. The Upper James work is supported by a $1.1 million grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment’s James River Water Quality Improvement Program. It will prevent nearly 200,000 pounds of sediment pollution from entering the Bay annually while also reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

Students Begin First Full School Year at Brock Classroom

This fall, students are starting their first full school year in CBF’s new Macon and Joan Brock Classroom. This cutting- edge sustainable addition to CBF’s Brock Environmental Center houses the Virginia Beach City Public School Environmental Studies Program, where every day students learn hands-on in nature in partnership with CBF.

The classroom opened in April 2021 and is already redefining learning. Students spent the past school year on the Brock Center grounds spotting seals, pitching in with CBF oyster restoration, studying growth rings on trees for evidence of climate change, catching crabs and fish, and researched nesting diamondback terrapin turtles.

“These students want to go out there and change the world. At the Brock Classroom, we’re giving them the tools to do just that,” said CBF Brock Center Manager Chris Gorri. The new classroom was built thanks to a generous donation from Macon and Joan Brock.

—Peggy Sanner
Virginia Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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