Nutrient reduction strategies | Pocahontas opens Aqua Center | Stewardship Virginia | Dameron Marsh Preserve opens | Volunteers at Northern Neck preserves | Partnership agenda: Moving Virginia's environmenta forward | 22 trail projects recommended | Mosquitoes and stormwater structures | 2002 coastal workshop | Land conservation brochure | New property at parks
Coordinating the revision of action plans that reduce nutrients and sediments in Virginia rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay is a priority for the state's natural resource agencies. The plans, known as tributary strategies, are due by April 2004 for the Shenandoah, Potomac, Rappahannock, York and James river basins and the bayside of Virginia's Eastern Shore.
"Over the years we have made great strides in reducing the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments into our Bay tributaries," said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Tayloe Murphy. "But if we are to protect the water quality, living resources and aquatic habitats in those rivers and the Bay, we need to redouble our efforts. And we need to start today."
State staff is working locally in each of the tributary basins to devise basin-specific reduction plans. These plans will look at improvements to wastewater treatment plants, increasing the use of agricultural conservation practices and improving the management of stormwater in suburban and urban areas. Meetings to kick off tributary strategy efforts were held in all basins between June and August.
"DCR is pleased to be an integral part of the development of tributary strategies," said Director Joseph H. Maroon. "Our soil and water conservation staff has expertise and local contacts that should prove valuable to this important work. Reducing nonpoint source pollution will be a major challenge to meeting the Bay goals."
Tributary strategies are called for as part of Virginia's commitment to restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Initial nutrient reduction plans were developed between 1999 and 2000. In 2000 Bay partner entities agreed to more aggressive reduction goals for improving living resources in the Bay to remove it from the federal list of impaired waters by 2010. To reach its new 2010 goal, the state's nitrogen reduction must be nearly 27 million pounds, phosphorus reduction nearly 3.6 million pounds and sediment reduction 500,000 tons annually. These amounts are broken down by river basin.
High nutrient levels disrupt the balance of the Bay ecosystem by causing the rapid growth of unhealthy algae and prohibiting light from reaching underwater grasses critical to the health of fish and shellfish.Excessive sediment also blocks needed light and can smother bottom dwelling plant and animal species critical to the food chain.
For more information, check the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources website and click on "tributary strategies."
Pocahontas State Park's new water recreation center opened July 4 after a $2 million, year-long redesign and reconstruction. Its unique circle design features separate areas for everyone in the family, and the center includes a spray deck and water slide tube-flumes. The design concept was based on public input. The facility can accommodate almost 2,000 at one time but uses 200,000 fewer gallons of water than did the old pool. The architect and engineering firm responsible for the design is Clough, Harbour & Associates from Richmond, and the major contractor is East Coast Utilities from Williamsburg.
|The Aqua Center at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield County is an instant hit.|
Virginia's natural resources secretariat is launching a six-week campaign to encourage voluntary participation in specific projects that will result in tangible improvements to Virginia's lands and waters. The campaign, spearheaded by DCR, encourages local groups and local citizens to adopt streams, stencilstorm drains, improve trails, use conservation landscaping, enhance habitat, and restore streams and forest buffers. Participants receive certificates and stickers.
Individuals, businesses or organizations already involved in these voluntary conservation activities can list events with Stewardship Virginia so details are available to others wanting to help with a project.
To volunteer or to receive more information, including a registration packet, call 1-877-42WATER.
In Richmond call Bonnie Phillips at DCR at (804) 786-5056.
Also visit this website for opportunities and events, dates and locations.
For those curious about natural area preserves - what are they? where are they? why does the state own them? - Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve is one place to find out.
Tag along with stewardship volunteers on a guided walk at the preserve in Northumberland County and hear about the 37 properties in the state preserve system,Virginia's Natural Heritage Program, and the natural and historical attributes that made Dameron Marsh a conservation priority. Ten active volunteers have organized and take turns conducting the walks, which debuted the Saturday following Dameron Marsh's May 9 opening.
Following a heat- and bug-related summer hiatus, volunteers plan to resume walks in the fall and again next spring. The fall schedule is second and fourth Saturdays of each month from 10 a.m. to noon, from Sept. 13 to Nov. 22, 2003. Spring 2004 walks will start in March and run through the end of May.
"Except for winter and the dead of summer, they're geared up to do this year-round," said DCR Chesapeake Bay Steward Rebecca Wilson, who advises the volunteers. Wilson said the group compiled facts and figures to make their own Guidebook for Field Trip Leaders, and is interested in leading Standards of Learning (SOL)-based field trips for area school groups and possibly assembling an oral history of the preserve.
Other area natural area preserves - Hughlett Point, Bethel Beach and Bush Mill Stream - also benefit from volunteer involvement. More than 40 volunteers help at the four preserves. About 30 of them monitor public use for Wilson, reporting information such as visitor numbers and conditions at the properties themselves. Some even help her with field trips.
"Most of these groups organized before I was in this job, but more people have approached me about becoming involved," Wilson said. "It's great to have this many people interested in DCR's efforts to conserve these special places."
Throughout my career as a public servant, first in the legislative branch and now in the executive branch, I have always believed that every stakeholder should have a seat at the table where environmental policy is made, and that consensus building offers the best hope for timely success in resolving our problems.
With Virginia's natural resources facing a host of challenges, bringing together leaders from across the Commonwealth to explore these challenges was the thinking behind Gov. Mark Warner's Natural Resources Leadership Summit. Held in Williamsburg in early April, the summit brought together a diverse mix of approximately 130 business, conservation, local and state government, outdoor recreation, fisheries, sportsmen, historic preservation and development community leaders. This summit was the first working session of its kind in Virginia.
"The way we manage our natural resources has an impact on every Virginian today and well into the future," said Gov. Warner in calling for the summit. "For that reason, we felt it was critical to bring together the best minds from across the state, representing diverse interests, to develop an active partnership agenda that will help direct natural resource initiatives for at least the next three years."
The very clear message from summit participants is that Virginia must do more to ensure the health and viability of our environment and the great variety of resources we enjoy. We are charting a new course that relies on commitments for cooperative efforts among state agencies, environmental and business organizations, local governments and others. But we need the help of all Virginians from across the Commonwealth. No matter what your interests, we hope you will join us.
There were two key objectives that motivated the planning for the summit. The first goal was to get the participants to look at Virginia's natural and historic resources and the agencies that manage them in a more holistic way. Doing so will build stronger allegiances between departments and identify ways to make all natural resource programs mutually supportive.
The second objective was to generate the best ideas for new or improved initiatives, and to galvanize support for a new and expanded coalition of diverse interests that will work hard to advance common natural and historic resource goals.
As I reflect upon the purposes of the summit, and after having observed many of the participants in action, I would have to conclude that it was an unqualified success. I observed a great deal of energy and optimism in each of the individual sessions, and even with the diversity of participant interests, I saw strong support for the accomplishment of great things in natural resource conservation. I think we all discovered there are large areas of agreement, which clearly outweigh differences that may exist.
Participants at the summit broke up into groups addressing four major issues: water resources, land conservation, outdoor recreation, and fisheries and wildlife resources. Each group also addressed several "cross-cutting" issues: funding, pollution prevention and environmental education. The result of their work is the Virginia Natural Resources Partnership Agenda.
This agenda allows the Commonwealth to build on our recent accomplishments such as ranking second in the country in lands protected by permanent conservation easements, voters passing a $119 million bond referendum to acquire parklands and natural areas and improve existing state parks, reducing pollution reaching the Chesapeake Bay and meeting our riparian buffer goal eight years ahead of schedule. It also reinforces the governor's previous commitments such as establishing a comprehensive water plan and redoubling our efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
It will also allow us to address current shortcomings such as each year losing 49,000 acres of forest land and prime agricultural crop- land to development, having blue crab populations at near historic lows and our native oyster population threatened with disease. The Commonwealth also has more than 650 stream segments that do not meet one or more of our water quality standards and must be cleaned. In some portions of the Commonwealth, our growth patterns are not conducive to habitat protection and efficient transportation. And, we currently have no permanent source of funding for land conservation or for financial incentives that promote water quality improvement through both point and nonpoint source programs.
During the summit, no single issue generated as much discussion, support and concern as funding for Virginia's natural and historic resources programs. These programs have been historically under-funded when compared to program needs, and budget crises have compounded the problem. The impact of these cuts on operations and programs has been largely due to the smaller environmental budgets. With only six-tenths of one percent of the state general fund budget committed, Virginia currently ranks 50th among the states in spending on natural resources.
As a result of these discussions, Gov. Warner has pledged to minimize effects on natural and historic resource agendas if further belt tightening is needed. He also has appointed a commission to make funding recommendations by this September and has pledged to work with Virginia's congressional delegation to ensure the Commonwealth receives its full share of federal natural resource dollars.
Also, in order to sustain the momentum and broad-based engagement generated by the summit, a Natural Resources Partnership is being created consisting of a cross-section of individuals from business, industry, local government, outdoor recreation, environmental, preservation and conservation interests. I will chair the partnership with the natural resources agency heads as ex officio members.
I do not see this partnership agenda as the end product of a two-day summit. Rather, I see it as the continuation of a commitment by this administration to fully involve our citizenry in the protection of our precious landscapes, and historic and natural resources. The partnership agenda proposes very few new ideas. But it does provide a workable framework for moving forward to keep Virginia an enjoyable and healthy place to work and live.
I call on each of you to heed the call, to get involved and make a difference. My office and the agencies in our natural resources secretariat stand ready to work with you as we move forward together to create a Virginia of which we can all be proud.
The Virginia Partnership Agenda (An Outline)
Fisheries and wildlife
A full copy of the governor's Natural Resources Partnership Agenda can be found on the Secretary of Natural Resources website.
* DCR will play a prominent role in implementing these initiative.
The annual awarding of Virginia Recreational Trail Grants allows DCR to divide $1 million in federal funds among private organizations and governmental entities for work on public trails across the state. An optimum 30 percent of the funds are awarded for motorized recreational trail uses, 30 percent for non-motorized uses, and 40 percent must be given to proposals with the most compatible purposes. Of 47 applications, 22 projects were recommended by the Board of Conservation and Recreation and DCR Director Joseph Maroon, and are pending federal approval
Local government projects:
Club or other group projects:
State projects (DCR):
For grant application deadlines and more details, check DCR's website where you can download the Virginia Recreational Trails Program manual, criteria and check-list for grant writers.
It's summertime, mosquitoes are abundant, and they can carry infectious diseases. The West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are two recognized diseases that have recently occurred in Virginia.
As this subject receives attention, people have begun to understand that mosquito habitat has much to do with their populations and, consequently, the possibility of disease. Upon hearing that "standing water" helps mosquitoes breed, people assign that description to any body of water - stormwater retention ponds and similar structures among them.
Facts to learn and share with others
In general, contact local government about programs to control disease-carrying mosquitoes in your area. Refer complaints about standing water on state roads and rights-of-way to the Virginia Department of Transportation by calling 800-367-7623.
The Virginia Department of Health's website has its West Nile Virus Surveillance and Response Plan. For specifics about stormwater structure design and maintenance, call DCR at 1-877-42WATER.
December 3 - 5 in Williamsburg. Visit this website for details.
Land conservation brochure explaining the various programs and means Virginia state agencies have to help property owners conserve their land and land-based resources. Request a printed copy by emailing email@example.com. You can download a copy now.
Walnut Valley Farm
DCR is acquiring 265 acres adjacent to Chippokes Plantation State Park. On the Walnut Valley Farm site are a 1778 house, slave quarters, a kitchen and barns. Still farmed, the property contains woodlands and wetlands, and is a link between two historic roads - one of which dates to 1690 - that lead to Bacon's Castle in Surry. "Walnut Valley Farm will enhance both the cultural and natural resources of the park," said Chippokes Park Manager Danette Poole.
Mulberry Hill Plantation
A donation by the Butler family earlier this year allows another aspect of the story of the bridge battle to be included within Staunton River Bridge Battlefield State Park. Mulberry Hill Plantation is the ancestral home of Virginia's Carrington family and is on the Virginia Landmarks Registry. A medium-sized plantation house, seven outbuildings, formal garden and eight-acre pond grace its 41 acres. Public access will be delayed until repairs are made, but the park could host an occasional event there. "We want to take the time to do this right," said Park Manager Jim Zanarini of the stabilization and renovation necessary to ready the home for visitors.