Good things happen when voices join together for the Bay. Every Thursday during this year's Virginia legislative session, CBF volunteers from the Blue Ridge to the shores of the Bay travel to Richmond to advocate for clean water. After an informal legislative briefing with CBF grassroots staff, these intrepid volunteers meet with state legislators and staff to urge support for key programs and policies. The results are promising, from developing relationships with elected officials to increased investment in projects that reduce pollution. Here are the stories of three of these Clean Water Captains who recently visited Richmond together for a CBF lobby day.
Judy lives right on the water on Deep Creek, where she's a passionate birder who enjoys watching great blue herons glide by and ducks swimming up the creek. Judy wants to save the Bay for the wildlife, and often goes out on her little 10-foot jon boat to clean up trash around nearby waterways. A CBF volunteer since the 1990s, this year Judy worked with the City of Chesapeake to increase support for legislation that would give localities more options to preserve tree cover after development.
Talking to legislators is "empowering," Judy said. "You feel like you are really doing something. There are other voices lobbying their concerns, there are so many issues for the legislators to worry about. They've got to hear your voice too."
Denise knows clean water policy and issues, having worked at Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality for years before recently retiring. She also has a longtime love for the water, living near the Bay on Virginia's Middle Peninsula. Denise began actively advocating for clean water policy after her retirement, first writing letters to the editor in local newspapers and then joining CBF's Clean Water Captains program. On her latest visit to Richmond, she urged her legislators to invest in Virginia's Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which supports localities in their efforts to reduce polluted runoff.
Lynn started out as an oyster gardener with CBF at her home on the Indian River and has gone on to help establish five small oyster beds nearby, working with neighbors, Elizabeth River Project, CBF, and Friends of Indian River. This was her first time coming to Richmond as an advocate, following a previous CBF lobbying trip to D.C. "I was raised to be an environmentalist," she said, when asked why she took the leap to advocacy with CBF. "So, I just decided to go." Working with CBF "made advocating for clean water effortless for me by providing a clear understanding of current proposed legislation and inspiring me to add my personal experience to my interactions with my legislators," Lynn said.