Category Archives: Land Use

Items related to agriculture, preservation, development, forestry, and other land-based activities that affect water resources.

14-car Train Derailment in Wythe County, Va., on July 14, 2014; No Chemical Spills, Health Impacts, or Environmental Impacts Reported as of July 16

As of late July 15, 2014, crews were working to put back on rails 14 Norfolk-Southern cars that derailed near Wytheville  on July 14.  As of the same day, local officials had said that no injuries or property damage occurred, and a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson reported that so far the agency had found no evidence of spills, impacts on human health, or environmental impacts.  The derailment did, however, result in temporary closure of two area roads.  The derailed cars were part of a 33-car train traveling from Louisville to Virginia’s Hampton Roads port.  News accounts on early July 16 reported that the contents of the derailed cars had not yet been identified.

Sources: Crews work to right derailed train in Wythe, [Bristol, Va.], 7/16/14; and Dispatchers confirm train derailment in Wytheville, WDBJ TV/Roanoke, 7/16/14.

Virginia (and Elsewhere) Water News Headlines Sampler for May 21-29, 2014: Stream-fencing, Sea-level Rise, Natural Gas, Werowocomoco, USDA Grants, VEE Grants, Maryland Wind Energy Proposal, West Virginia Watewater Grants, and Montana Study of Trout and Climate Change

Following are headlines and notes for a selection of water-news stories from the period May 21—29, 2014, that occurred in Virginia, occurred in nearby areas, or are otherwise relevant to Virginia. The headlines are grouped by topics and—within those groups—from newest to oldest.  Explanatory notes have been added in brackets after the publication and date.  Unless otherwise noted, all places mentioned are in Virginia.  As of 5/30/14, all headlines listed below had working hyperlinks to take you to the full article, but those links may or may not be working at later dates.

Chesapeake Bay Clean Up/Restoration
Dubious Stream-Fencing Numbers Reveal Limitations of Bay Model, Lancaster [Penn.] Farming, 5/24/14 – Virginia has an objective of adding stream-side fencing to restrict cattle access to 4,700 miles of streams in Chesapeake Bay tributary watersheds by 2025; the Commonwealth and the Chesapeake Bay Program are working to make on-the-ground estimates of progress toward this goal correspond more closely to information used in the Bay Program’s computer models that assess progress toward the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

Climate Change (see also below under “Montana” for another climate item)
Hampton Roads landmarks in crosshairs of climate change, Daily Press, as published by Stars and Stripes, 5/21/14; and Sea Level Rise Endangers Historic Sites Around Chesapeake Bay, Associated Press, 5/21/14 – On May 20, 2014, the Union of Concerned Scientists released “National Landmarks at Risk: How Rising Seas, Floods, and Wildfires are Threatening the United States’ Most Cherished Historic Sites.”  The 84-page report, available online at, presents case studies of sea-level-rise risks at 23 U.S. coastal areas, including four in Virginia: Fort Monroe National Monument, Jamestown, the NASA Langley Research Center, and the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility.

U.S. groups seek more time to comment on Dominion LNG export project, Reuters, 5/21/14 – On May 21, 2014, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Earthjustice filed petitions with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), asking that the agency extend by 60 days the current mid-June deadline for public comment on FERC’s environmental review of the proposal by Richmond-based Dominion Resources to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal at Cove Point, on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

Dominion considers new W.Va.-Va.-N.C. pipeline, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/28/14 – Richmond-based Dominion Resources is considering a 480-mile, natural gas pipeline that would transport gas extracted from Appalachian shale formations from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina.

East Coast menhaden harvest decreased 26% from 2012, Bay Journal, 5/27/14 – In 2013, the first year of new restrictions imposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the harvest of Atlantic Menhaden along the eastern United States coast—including the Chesapeake Bay—decreased by 26 percent from 2012.

Land Use
Werowocomoco National Park? It would benefit both tourism and scholarship, William & Mary News, 5/21/14 – On May 20, 2014, Va. Gov. Terry McCauliffe toured Werowocomoco, the York River site at the center of the Algonquin Indian people led by Chief Powhatan in the 1600s and now proposed for a national park.

Paying for Water
USDA launches $1.2 billion in competitive grants for conservation projects, Charlotte [Va.] Observer, 5/30/14; and New federal farm program should help fight Chesapeake Bay pollution, Roanoke Times, 5/28/14 – On May 27, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) started the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, a program authorized by the new Farm Bill passed in February 2014.  Over the next five years, the program will offer $1.2 billion in competitive grants (requiring a match) for conservation projects nationwide.

Virginia Environmental Endowment awards nearly $300K in grants, Augusta Free Press, 5/25/14 – In late May 2014, the Virginia Environmental Endowment announced about 14 grants totaling about $300,000 for projects on water quality, environmental literacy, land conservation, and “emerging” environmental issues.

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Gov.’s veto might not end wind debate, The (Gaithersburg Md.) Gazette, 5/21/14 – The Pioneer Green company, based in Austin, Texas, is proposing to build the Great Bay Wind Energy Center, a wind-generating project across the Chesapeake Bay off of Somerset County, Maryland.  On May 16, 2014, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley vetoed a Maryland General Assembly bill that would have delayed the project; Assembly members have expressed concerns about possible impacts on the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, located across the Bay from Somerset County in St. Mary’s County. Information from Pioneer Green is available online at

W.Va. clean water loan program marks milestone, Associated Press, as published by [Steubenville, Ohio] Herald-Star, 5/21/14 – In May 2014, West Virginia’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund reached the $1-billion mark in loans (320 total) since 1992 to localities for wastewater-infrastructure projects.

In Montana, but with Worldwide Implications
Climate Change Accelerates Hybridization between Native and Invasive Species of Trout, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 5/25/14 – On May 25, 2014, the scientific journal Nature Climate Change published “Invasive hybridization in a threatened species is accelerated by climate change,” research by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), University of Montana, and the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department.  The USGS news release on the research asserts that the study is the first to support directly the assumption that “climate change could decrease worldwide biodiversity through cross-breeding between invasive and native species.”  The research study is available online at

Free Fishing Days June 6-8, Fly-fishing Tournament to Benefit Disabled Service Members, “Some Beach” Essay by VMI Cadet, and More Available in May 14, 2014, Outdoor Report from Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries

The latest “Outdoor Report” (5/14/14) from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) in now available at

Each edition of the Outdoor Report is full of information on fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, boating, and other outdoor activities.  The sections of the 5/14/14 report are listed below, with hyperlinks to go to the individual items.

4th Annual National Kids to Parks Day is May 17, 2014

Virginia’s 36 state parks, along with many other public areas around the country, will be on special display on May 17, 2014, when the Commonwealth participates in the fourth annual National Kids to Parks Day, coordinated by the National Park Trust.  Information on the nationwide event is available online at events are listed at

For a short audio introduction to Virginia’s state parks, have a listen to Virginia Water Radio Episode 161, done in connection with the 2013 Kids to Parks Day.  The 2 minute/33 second episode is available online at

Agriculture’s Connections to the Federal Clean Water Act Discussed in Detail in the Nov.-Dec. 2013 National Wetlands Newsletter

“Agriculture and the Clean Water Act,” in the Nov.-Dec. 2013 issue of National Wetlands Newsletter (pages 8-20), provides a detailed and well-referenced description of how the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) does and does not regulate agriculture.  The article is a chapter from Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Law (Environmental Law Institute, 2013).  Available by subscription from the Environmental Law Institute, 2000 L Street NW, Suite 620, Washington, D.C. 20036; phone (800) 433-5120; e-mail:; Web site:  Or check your local public or university/college library to see if they have a copy.

Barn and Bridge over Middle River Mt Meridian Dec16 09

The Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is one area where agriculture’s connections to water quality receive great attention.  Shown here is a farm beside Middle River (a tributary of the South Fork Shenandoah River) near Mt. Meridian (Augusta County), Dec. 16, 2009.

Virginia Outdoors Plan 2013 Edition Released April 4, 2014

On April 4, 2014, Virginia released the 2013 edition of the five-year Virginia Outdoors Plan.  According to the Virginia Department on Conservation (DCR) Web site on the plan (at, the document is “the state’s comprehensive plan for land conservation, outdoor recreation, and open-space planning….[and]is required for Virginia to participate in the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program.”  The federal program, established in 1965, provides reimbursement to states for acquisition or development of public recreation areas.  The 2013 edition is the 10th produced by Virginia.  The 405-page document includes analyses and recommendations for each of the Commonwealth’s 23 planning districts.  For more information, contact the DCR’s Office of Recreational Planning at (804) 786-5046.

Source: Virginia Releases Comprehensive Plan for Outdoor Recreation, Land Conservation , Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 4/4/14.

Va Outdoors plan

Cover of the 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan, published by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, April 2014.

Fishing Camp for Kids in Appomattox Apr. 25-27, Raptor Rapture in Fairfax County Apr. 26, Elk Restoration in Buchanan County, and More Available in April 23, 2014, Outdoor Report from Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries

The latest “Outdoor Report” (4/23/14) from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) in now available at

Each edition of the Outdoor Report is full of information on fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, boating, and other outdoor activities.  The sections of the 4/23/14 report are listed below, with hyperlinks to go to the individual items.

Tree Seedlings for Sale, Quail Project Update, May 16 Training for Removing Non-native Invasive Plants at Dyke Marsh in Fairfax County,and More Available in April 9, 2014, Outdoor Report from Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries

The latest “Outdoor Report” (4/9/14) from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) in now available at

Each edition of the Outdoor Report is full of information on fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, boating, and other outdoor activities.  The sections of the 4/9/14 report are listed below, with hyperlinks to go to the individual items.

Stewardship Virginia Seeks to Promote Natural Resource Conservation Projects Between Apr. 1 and May 31 and Between Sep. 1-Oct. 31

Stewardship Virginia is a statewide initiative held twice annually to help citizens with projects that enhance and conserve Virginia’s natural and cultural resources.  The program seeks to promote waterway adoption, trail improvement, riparian buffers, invasive species control, habitat improvement, landscaping for conservation, environmental education activities, and other projects.  2014 is the 12th year for the campaign; April 1-May 31 and September 1-October 31 are the two time periods again this year.

To learn how you can get involved—including getting a certificate signed by the governor!—visit the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Web site at  More information is also available from Bonnie Phillips at or 1-877-42-WATER (877-429-2837).

Additional source: Governor McAuliffe Unveils Spring Stewardship Virginia Campaign, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 3/28/14.

USED Grouper 3-14-13 May 3 06 From Parking lot 1
Riparian tree plantings, such as this one seen along Toms Creek in Blacksburg (Montgomery County) in March 2006, are one of the kinds of conservation projects promoted by Stewardship Virginia.

Virginia’s Natural Bridge Sold in February 2014; Intended to Become a Virginia State Park

On February 6, 2014, a transaction was recorded in Rockbridge County, Va., that transfers Virginia’s landmark Natural Bridge and some 1500 acres around it to the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund (VCLF), with the intention that the area will eventually become a Virginia state park.  Property-owner  Angelo Puglisi donated the bridge itself—a naturally formed arch of limestone, created by ages of water erosion, with an estimated value of $21 million—to the VCLF, a non-profit organization set up by Tom Clarke, owner of Kissito, a health-care organization in Roanoke (for more information on Kissito, please see  Mr. Puglisi sold the rest of the property for $7 million in state tax credits (for a conservation easement to be placed on the property) and $8.6 million in cash from VCLF.  The property is to be transferred to the Commonwealth when the VCLF pays off a $9.1 million loan used for the transaction.  Mr. Clarke has stated that he intends to pay off that loan by December 2015.

Sources:  Natural Bridge sold, on path to become state park, Roanoke Times, 2/6/14; Natural Bridge sold, destined to be a park, Associated Press, as published in Charlottesville Daily Progress, 2/6/14; and Kissito’s Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund Purchases Virginia’s Natural Bridge, Kissito blog post, 2/6/14.


Virginia’s Natural Bridge, Sept. 18, 2010.