Category Archives: Land Use

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

“Virginia Treasures” Strategy for Land Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Announced April 22, 2015, by Gov. McCauliffe

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia Governor’s Office’s Apr. 22, 2015, news release on the launch of Virginia Treasures, a new land-conservation and outdoor-recreation strategy.  The Web site for Virginia Treasures is  Other Governor’s Office news releases are online at

Governor McAuliffe Announces Major Conservation Initiative, 4/22/15.
Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the launch of Virginia Treasures, the Commonwealth’s new strategy for conserving land and expanding access to public outdoor recreation. … The administration’s goal is to identify, conserve, and protect at least 1,000 treasures by the end of the governor’s term. Criteria for what constitutes a treasure have been developed by the Commonwealth’s natural resources staff.

“Treasures could fall into one of two defined categories: land conservation; or natural, cultural, and recreational.  Land conservation treasures include agricultural lands, forests that provide water-quality benefits, wetlands, and habitat for rare or threatened plants and animals.  Natural, cultural, and recreational treasures include trails, water-access points, parks, scenic byways, rivers and viewsheds, public gardens, and wildlife-viewing areas.

“Governor McAuliffe [also] announced a new Virginia Treasure at Pocahontas State Park: a monarch butterfly garden. The garden will provide native plants and grasses for monarchs and other pollinators as part of an initiative to restore the monarch population, which has been on the decline due to the loss of food sources and habitat. …

“The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is the lead agency charged with tracking Virginia Treasures. Multiple state agencies, land trusts, local governments and private groups are involved in the initiative.”

Increased Production and Purchase of Virginia Potatoes Planned by Route 11 Potato Chips in Shenandoah County, Va.: 3-18-15 News Release from Va. Governor’s Office

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia governor’s office’s Mar. 18, 2015, news release on increased production–bringing increased Virginia potato purchases–by Route 11 Potato Chips in Mt. Jackson (Shenandoah County).  (Other news releases from the governor’s office are available online at

Governor McAuliffe Announces Expansion of Specialty Potato Chip Production Facility in Shenandoah County, 3/18/15.  Excerpt: “…Route 11 Potato Chips will expand its existing potato chip production facility in Shenandoah County.  The company will invest more than $1.2 million and create 13 jobs in Mount Jackson, while sourcing nearly half of its new potato and sweet potato purchases from Virginia agricultural producers.   The Commonwealth is partnering with Shenandoah County and Route 11 on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund.  …Route 11 will install a second production line in its current facility to meet increased demand for its potato chips, particularly increased orders of its sweet potato chips, from major grocery chains and wholesale distributors.   The company sources chipping potatoes from Virginia and beyond, while sourcing 100% of their sweet potatoes from Virginia.”

Avian Influenza Cases in Some States in 2015: the Suspected Role of Waterfowl, and Poultry Precautions (Mar. 13, 2015, News Release from the Va. Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services)

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS)  Mar. 13, 2015,  news release on cases of avian influenza being reported in other states, including information about the suspected role of waterfowl, the virus’ potential to affect poultry, and recommended precautions.  Other news releases from VDACS are available online at

Virginia Needs To Observe Strict Biosecurity In Light Of Avian Influenza Outbreaks Elsewhere; No Cases in Virginia, But State Urges Precautions, Va. Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services News Release, 3/12/15.

Excerpt: “Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), says the good news is that Virginia is not one of the growing number of states with cases of Avian Influenza (AI) right now.  The bad news is that the highly infectious disease is spreading and has entered the Mississippi flyway.

“H5N2 Avian Influenza, the strain of AI that has been diagnosed on the West Coast in the past few months, has recently been detected in the Midwest, raising concern that the disease will spread to poultry on the East Coast.  The disease appears to be spread by wild waterfowl.  The threat of AI is of great concern to Virginia’s poultry industry.

“In light of this serious situation and to prevent potential disease spread, visitors should not enter poultry operations unless absolutely necessary.  For necessary visits such as bringing in feed and other supplies or providing critical services, truckers, veterinarians and even family members should take maximum biosecurity precautions such disinfecting footware, vehicle tires, equipment and anything else that enters and exits poultry houses.  Poultry owners from one farm should avoid mingling with residents of other poultry farms as much as possible.  All poultry owners, both commercial and backyard flock owners, are advised to prevent exposure of poultry to wild waterfowl from fly-overs or fecal contamination of ponds and streams. …

“This particular strain of H5N2 does not affect people. But as a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F kills bacteria and viruses.  People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife.  If contact occurs, they should wash their hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

“For more information about biosecurity measures and plans, contact the State Veterinarian’s Office at (804) 692-0601 or your local Office of Veterinary Services at the Regional Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in your area. …”

Virginia Record Ag. and Forestry Exports in 2014 (Mar. 9, 2015, News Release from Va. Governor’s Office)

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia Governor’s Office’s Mar. 9, 2015,  news release on a new record level of agricultural and forestry exports.  Other news releases from the governor’s office are available online at

Governor McAuliffe Announces Virginia Agricultural and Forestry Exports Reach New All-Time High, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 3/9/15.

Excerpt: “…[A]gricultural exports, which also include forestry products, from Virginia reached a new all-time high of more than $3.35 billion in 2014, eclipsing the previous record set in 2013 by more than 14 percent.  Virginia also became the second largest agricultural exporter on the East Coast, surpassing North Carolina and gaining ground on Georgia. … This is fourth consecutive year that Virginia has set new record levels for agricultural exports. …

“The top three export markets for Virginia in 2014 were China, Canada, and Switzerland, all filling the same spots they held in 2013.  China imported more than $691 million in agricultural purchases, while Canada totaled just over $279 million and Switzerland took in approximately $174 million in 2014. … The remainder of Virginia’s top ten export markets, along with the values shipped rounded to the nearest million dollars, include:  Mexico, $150 million; Russia, $124 million; Japan, $114 million; United Kingdom, $110 million; Venezuela, $103 million;  Morocco, $98 million; and Indonesia, $94 million. …

“The top agricultural and forestry product exports from Virginia in 2014 include: soybeans, soybean meal and soy oil, lumber and logs, pork, unmanufactured leaf tobacco; poultry, processed foods and beverages, including wine; corn; wheat; animal feed; wood pellets; seafood and other marine products; raw peanuts; cotton; and animal fats and oils. …

“According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, agriculture and forestry are two of Virginia’s largest private industries with a combined economic impact of $70 billion annually.  Agriculture generates more than $52 billion per annum, while forestry induces more than $17 billion.  The industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.  More information about the Weldon Cooper Center’s study can be found at”

Water and Land Use in Virginia State Government News Releases for Feb. 20—Feb. 26, 2015: Chesapeake Bay Ag BMPs Grant; Ag and Forestry Planning Grants; Block Grants for Water/Sewer Projects in SW Va.; Agricultural Mediation Service; Conservation Corps Snow-emergency Assistance to Town of Appalachia; Invasive Plant List, Consent Order for April 2014 James River Oil Tanker Spill in Lynchburg; Big Game 2014 Harvest Data; Conservation Officer Recruitment through Mar. 15; and Winter Oyster Season Extension

Following are titles and excerpts from Virginia state government news releases for February 20 to February 26, 2015 (as of 4 p.m. on Feb. 26), which relate to water resources or to other natural resource uses with significant potential to affect water.  To access the full text of any release, click on the release title, or (if that link doesn’t work) click on the Web address beside each agency name to go to that agency’s archive of releases.


Virginia Receives Federal Grant to Advance Chesapeake Bay Cleanup; Funds will go toward agricultural best practices, 2/26/15. Excerpt: “…Virginia has been selected to receive a federal grant to accelerate the implementation of practices related to Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals. Virginia will receive $1.75 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service….   Specifically, the funds will be used over the next four years to expand the use of fencing and other techniques designed to prevent livestock from wading into streams and fouling water quality. The funds will be concentrated in the areas of Virginia where tributary streams drain to the Chesapeake Bay. The majority of Virginia’s grant—$1.45 million—will be paid out to farmers directly. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will receive the remaining $300,000, which will be distributed to the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to provide technical assistance in establishing forested buffers on agricultural land.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces Agriculture, Forestry Planning Grants for Orange County, City of Richmond, 2/25/15. Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the award of two planning grants from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).  Projects in Orange County and the City of Richmond have been awarded $40,000 to support the growth of agricultural and forestry projects in the Commonwealth. … The AFID planning grant program, funded annually at $250,000, was developed to encourage localities to plan strategically how they can better support and integrate agriculture- and forestry-based businesses into their overall economic development and job creation efforts. Since its creation in 2012, AFID planning grants have been awarded to 25 projects in 50 localities across the Commonwealth, leveraging more than $505,000 in funding.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces More Than $3 Million in Community Development Block Grant Funding, 2/25/15. Excerpt: “…$3 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) [will go to] the counties of Dickenson, Scott, York, Lee and Fauquier, as well as the town of Clarksville and the city of Franklin. Projects include water and sewer, downtown revitalization, and microenterprise. … Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and Virginia receives approximately $17 million annually for this grant program. CDBG grants are awarded through a competitive process.  Most projects benefit low- and moderate-income persons….” The awards for water and sewer projects are as follows: Dickenson County, Centennial Heights/Clinchco Sewer Line Project, $300,000; Lee County, Baileytown Water Project, $100,000; and Scott County, Big Stoney Creek Water Project, $412,500.


Agriculture Mediation Services Available for Farm-related Disputes, 2/23/15. Excerpt: “…[A]gricultural mediation services are now available to Virginia’s agriculture community through a partnership with the North Carolina Agriculture Mediation Program (NCAMP), which operates out of Western Carolina University. Known as FARM-VA, the program is certified through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency. Although the Virginia agricultural mediation program is based in North Carolina, mediations are held in the county where the parties work or reside. … FARM-VA helps settle disputes between USDA agencies and their customers and clients.”


Virginia State Parks crew providing emergency assistance to the Town of Appalachia, 2/26/15. Excerpt: A Virginia Service and Conservation Corps (VSCC) crew from Virginia State Parks has deployed to the Town of Appalachia in Wise County, to assist snowbound residents. This is the first time a Virginia State Parks VSCC crew is providing assistance to a local community. The Virginia State Parks VSCC was created in November 2014 to assist with large projects in parks—trail creation and maintenance, for example—but also to serve as a quick-response team for communities in general. … Assistance for the town of Appalachia was requested and efforts were coordinated by Virginia’s Office of Volunteer and Community Service, Virginia State Parks, and Glen “Skip” Skinner, Executive Director of LENOWISCO Planning District Commission.”

Kudzu and bamboo and privet! Oh my! New list identifies invasive plants in Virginia, 2/25/15. Excerpt: “…English ivy, golden bamboo or Japanese barberry—and 87 other [plants]—are on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s new list of non-native invasive plants of the state. … The list is for educational purposes only and has no regulatory authority. … Invasive plants can displace native plant species, reduce wildlife habitat and alter ecosystems. They threaten natural areas, parks and forests. In the United States, they cost an estimated $34 billion annually in economic loss.


Proposed consent order imposes $361,000 penalty on CSX in response to James River tanker fire, 2/13/15. Excerpt: The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has proposed a consent order in response to the derailment of a railcar that caught fire in the James River in Lynchburg on April 30, 2014. The order imposes a $361,000 civil charge against tanker car owner CSX Transportation Inc. An investigation by DEQ and CSX determined that of the more than 29,000 gallons of crude oil in the breached tanker, approximately 98 percent was consumed in the fire. DEQ checked water quality for several days along the river from Lynchburg to Richmond and observed no other environmental concerns at the time. … The consent order, to which CSX has agreed, also calls for CSX to pay more than $18,500 for DEQ’s investigative costs following the oil spill. In addition, CSX will complete restoration of the James River bank in the area of the derailment and conduct monitoring of the river to determine if there are any long-term environmental impacts from the incident. The public has until March 25, 2015, to submit comments on the order before it goes to the State Water Control Board for final approval.”


Deer, Bear, Turkey Harvest Data Announced, 2/23/15. Excerpt: “While Virginia deer and turkey harvests reflected a decline from last year, the black bear harvest reached record numbers. … A bumper crop of acorns across the state coupled with management actions to meet population objectives and some higher than normal disease mortality all factored into fluctuations in populations and harvest trends.”

Virginia Conservation Police Recruitment Effort Underway, 2/23/15. Excerpt: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is currently conducting a recruitment effort to hire up to 36 conservation police officers to be assigned to various duty stations across the Commonwealth. Virginia Conservation Police officers (CPOs) have full police authority with statewide jurisdiction. CPOs primarily enforce the fish, wildlife and boating laws…. Applications will be accepted until 5:00pm, March 13th 2015.”


Winter Oyster Season Extension: [At its monthly meeting on 2/24/15], the Marine Resources Commission “agreed to extend the winter oyster season by almost two weeks because of snow and ice that have kept harvesters off the water for most of February. In other action the Commission suspended the sale of oyster hand scrape and dredge licenses until further notice in order to keep harvest levels from expanding from increased fishing effort.” A summary of the 2/24/15 meeting is available online at


Dept. of Forestry –

Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries –

Dept. of Mines, Minerals and Energy –

Water and Land Use in Virginia State Government News Releases for Feb. 13—Feb. 19, 2015: Mid-Feb. Winter Storm Response, Community Supported Agriculture, Disaster Declaration for 2014 Drought in Bath and Highland Counties, State Park Camping Opening Date, Hungry Mother State Park Master Plan, Wild Turkey Hunt Event, and Cold-weather Safety

Following are titles and short excerpts from Virginia state government news releases for February 13 to February 19, 2015, that relate to water resources or to other natural resource uses with significant potential to affect water.   To access the full text of any release, click on the release title, or (if that link doesn’t work) click on the Web address beside each agency name to go to that agency’s archive of releases.


State Agencies Respond to Winter Storm, 2/17/15.   Excerpt: “…The storm dropped as much as 12 inches of snow in some parts of the state, leaving Virginians with snow-packed, icy roads and very low temperatures for the next few days.  Residents are encouraged to protect themselves by limiting travel, staying inside and taking safety precautions. … Here’s a list of current state agency storm response efforts and how they are assisting Virginians: Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews continue to work 12-hour shifts across the commonwealth to treat and plow roads as needed. … VDOT’s goal is to make all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours of the end of a storm. … From 4 p.m. Monday through 12 p.m. Tuesday, Virginia State Police troopers and dispatchers statewide have fielded 3,363 calls for service. During that period Virginia troopers responded to 1,035 traffic crashes and 1,023 disabled vehicles statewide. … The Virginia National Guard is returning to routine operations after staging personnel at readiness centers across the state for possible winter storm response operations, and senior leaders expect most personnel to be released from state active duty by end of the day Feb, 17, 2015.  More than 125 Virginia National Guard personnel were on standby for possible missions across the commonwealth Tuesday morning, Feb. 17, 2015.”

Governor McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency for Winter Storm Response, 2/16/15.  Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency today, an action that authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in responding to the winter storm that is sweeping across the commonwealth today through tomorrow morning and is expected to blanket many parts of the state with 3-14 inches of snow.   In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia.  This action does not apply to individuals or private businesses.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces VDOT is in High Response Mode for Statewide Snow Storm to Impact Virginia Beginning Monday [Feb. 16], 2/16/15.  Excerpt: “…Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are prepared and ready for a statewide winter storm that is expected to bring significant snow fall across Virginia beginning Monday morning.  Up to a foot of snow is expected in the far western region of the state and four to nine inches of snow across the rest of the state. … During the height of a statewide storm, 2,500 crew members in addition to contractors work in shifts to treat roads and remove snow.   VDOT and its contractors have nearly 12,000 pieces of equipment, including plows, trucks and motor graders for snow removal operations.  VDOT started the season with over 550,000 tons of salt, sand and treated abrasives and about 565,000 gallons of calcium chloride and salt brine.”


Subscription Programs Deliver Farm-Fresh, Virginia Grown Products, 2/18/15.  Excerpt: The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages Virginians to consider enrolling or re-enrolling in a CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] program to support local agriculture and obtain fresh, seasonal food and farm products.  CSA members pay an upfront subscription fee as a share of a farm’s harvest, and then receive a portion of the crops as they’re harvested.”

Two Virginia Counties—Bath and Highland—Receive Primary Disaster Declarations for Drought in 2014, 2/18/15.  Excerpt: “The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today that Highland County received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) designation as a primary disaster area due to drought that occurred from June 1 through October 31, 2014.  Bath County received a similar designation due to drought that occurred from August 22 through October 15, 2014.  Alleghany, Augusta, and Rockbridge Counties were named contiguous disaster counties, meaning they border a county named as a primary disaster area.  A federal Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the federal Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met.  This assistance includes FSA emergency loans.  Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.”


Virginia State Parks campsites to open March 6 [2015], 2/19/15. Excerpt: The opening day of camping season in Virginia State Parks is changing [from March 1].  Campgrounds will open Friday, March 6. … Managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia State Parks offers more than 1,800 campsites, ranging from primitive camping to RV sites with electric and water hookups.”  [The news release notes several exceptions to the new opening date; visit or phone 800-933-PARK (7275) for information on specific parks.]

Hungry Mother State Park master plan to be discussed March 12 [2015], 2/18/15.  Excerpt: “A public meeting to discuss long-range planning for Hungry Mother State Park in Smyth County will be March 12, 6 p.m., in Ferrell Hall at the Hemlock Haven Conference Center, Hungry Mother State Park, 2854 Park Blvd., Marion, Virginia.  Virginia law requires that master plans be written for all Virginia State Parks.  The plans cover the size, types and locations of facilities as well as the site’s special features and resources.  Plans also address roads and utilities, and outline phased development and costs for operations, maintenance and staffing.  Each state park master plan is reviewed and updated as necessary every five years.”


The 2015 Virginia Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt, 2/13/15.  Excerpt: “…[The] First Annual Virginia Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt, to be based out of Richmond, Virginia, [will take place] on April 17 and 18, 2015. … The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia (WFV) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) are coordinating this inaugural event. … WFV and DGIF work in partnership to acquire land, improve wildlife habitat, and develop events to connect people to the outdoors.  Proceeds from the 2015 Virginia Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt will be used to promote hunting opportunities across Virginia.”


State Officials Advise Virginians to Take Precautions in Extreme Cold Weather, 2/13/15.  Excerpt: “The Virginia Departments of Health and Emergency Management encourage everyone to protect themselves against serious health problems that can result from prolonged exposure to the cold [particularly frostbite and hypothermia]. .. To lower your risk:
*Wear…appropriate clothing like gloves/mittens, hats, scarves and snow boots.
*Dress in several layers of loose-fitting clothing and cover your face and mouth if possible.
*Be aware of the wind chill factor; wind can cause body-heat loss.
*Stay dry, and if you become wet, head indoors and remove any wet clothing immediately.
*Limit your time outdoors. Make sure you monitor the time your children are out in the cold.
*Do not ignore shivering…; [p]ersistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.
*If the heat in your home doesn’t work properly, contact your local government to find a warming center near you.
*Check on others who might not be able to care for themselves.”


Dept. of Environmental Quality –

Dept. of Forestry –

Dept. of Mines, Minerals and Energy –

Marine Resources Commission –

Water and Land Use in Virginia State Government News Releases for Jan. 30—Feb. 12, 2015: Specialty Crops Grants, Ag. Trade Conference in March, Land Conservation in Fed. Budget, USDA Grants for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, New Natural Area Preserve in Brunswick County, and Speckled Trout Harvest-quota Update

Following are titles and short excerpts from Virginia state government news releases for January 30 to February 12, 2015 (as of 4 p.m. on Feb. 12) that relate to water resources or to other natural resource uses that may affect water.  To access the full text of any release, click on the release title, or (if that link doesn’t work) click on the Web address beside each agency name to go to that agency’s archive of releases.


Governor McAuliffe Announces $565,000 in USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants Available for Virginia Agricultural Interests; Request for Applications Now Open, Deadline for Submittal is April 2, 2015, 2/12/15. Excerpt: [T]he Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is accepting applications for federal grants benefitting specialty crops. The Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant is offered through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agricultural associations, industry groups, community-based organizations, and producer groups that seek to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops in Virginia are eligible to submit proposals for grants up to $60,000 per project.  VDACS anticipates administering nearly $565,000 in funds for the development of specialty crop projects.  The deadline for returning applications is April 2, 2015.”

Governor McAuliffe to Co-Host 7th Annual Conference on Agricultural Trade March 9-10 in Richmond, 2/6/15. Excerpt: “The two-day conference, entitled ‘Facilitating New Opportunities in the Global Marketplace,’ is co-hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Virginia Port Authority (VPA).  The event will bring together producers, agribusinesses, entrepreneurs, exporters, foreign ambassadors, embassy ministers, land-grant university leadership, state and federal government officials, and others to discuss challenges and opportunities for global exports.  A moderated panel discussion and private meetings regarding the international trade of agricultural goods will be held as well.”

Governor McAuliffe Applauds Land Conservation Funding in President’s Budget, 2/4/15. Excerpt: “…President Obama [included] up to $37.8 million in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget to fund land conservation projects within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In his budget the President proposes as much as $32 million for Virginia projects, including the multi-state Captain John Smith Trail. … The President’s proposal drew heavily from the multi-jurisdictional “Rivers of the Chesapeake” proposal that was supported by a partnership of states, federal agencies, Indian tribes and nonprofit organizations.  In the proposed budget, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service will conserve key lands along the Chesapeake’s great rivers that stretch into Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.”


USDA Announces Funding for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects, 2/10/15 [U.S. Department of Agriculture news release]. Excerpt: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. … The resources announced today are made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. … USDA is making more than $280 million available to eligible applicants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Application deadlines vary by project type and the type of assistance requested. Details on how to apply are on page 78029 of the December 29, 2014, Federal Register or are available by contacting state Rural Development offices.

Just How Big is Agriculture in Virginia? – Really Big, 1/30/15. [This links to “Old Dominion Agriculture by Numbers,” a post on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Blog by Herman Ellison, the Virginia State Statistician for the National Agricultural Statistics Service.] Excerpt: “[The] 2012 Census of Agriculture counted more than 46,000 farms, which cover more than 8.3 million acres of farmland in the commonwealth. That’s nearly a third of our entire state! In fact, according to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, agriculture is our state’s largest industry. In the most recent census, Virginia farmers reported selling more than $3.7 billion worth of agricultural products.”


Virginia designates 62nd natural area preserve, 2/2/15. Excerpt: A privately owned property containing a granite outcrop has become Virginia’s 62nd natural area preserve. Located in Brunswick County, the 11-acre tract has been protected with an open-space easement and dedicated as a natural area preserve. It is designated as Dundas Granite Flatrock Natural Area Preserve. Rare-species habitat and exemplary natural communities are protected permanently through the Virginia Natural Area Preserve System. The statewide system now contains 55,371 acres. … [The site] was studied by Natural Heritage Program scientists with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. The granite flatrock and shallow soils around it support a Southern Piedmont hardpan forest and two rare plants — Small’s purslane and granite-loving sedge. The conservation status of these resources is rare on global and state scales.”


Speckled Trout Harvest-quota Update, 2/12/15. “The Commission would like to remind commercial harvesters and buyers that 80 percent of the 51,104 pound commercial landings quota for speckled trout has been taken for the season that began on September 1, 2014 and will extend through August 31, 2015. It is unlawful, for any commercial fisherman registration licensee, to take, harvest, land or possess a daily bycatch limit of more than 100 pounds of speckled trout. That daily bycatch landing limit of speckled trout shall consist of at least an equal amount of other fish species.”


Dept. of Environmental Quality

Dept. of Forestry

Dept. of Game And Inland Fisheries

Dept. of Health (no water-related releases)

Dept. of Mines, Minerals And Energy