Category Archives: Land Use

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

Virginia Campground Regulations Undergoing Periodic Review in 2016-17; Public Hearing to be Held June 20, 2017, in Richmond

In summer 2017, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Board of Health are considering revisions to the Commonwealth’s regulations governing campgrounds, including regulations for water supplies, wastewater facilities, solid-waste disposal, swimming facilities, pest control, and other environmental health aspects.  A public hearing on the proposed regulations will be held June 20, 1 p.m.,  at the Perimeter Center, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond; the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for that meeting is online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=26040.

The proposed regulatory changes are part of a periodic review begun in 2016.  According to the VDH “Action Summary” (online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4554&display=stages), “The intent of this regulatory action is to amend the regulations, to address current camping practices, update terminology, and remove or replace outdated requirements.”  The regulations are at Section 12 VAC 5‑450 in the Virginia Administrative Code.  The proposed changes were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on May 29, 2017.  The public comment period ends July 28, 2017.  More information on this regulatory process is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewStage.cfm?stageid=7790.

Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund – Applications for Fiscal Year 2018 Due by July 14, 2017

July 14, 2017, is the deadline to apply to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for financial assistance in Fiscal Year 2018 through the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund (VCWRLF).  The DEQ’s Web site for the FY 2018 program is online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/CleanWaterFinancingAssistance/FY2017AnnualSolicitation.aspx.

Here is an excerpt from that Web site:

“VCWRLF applications are being solicited for projects that involve improvements to publicly-owned wastewater collection and treatment facilities, installation of publicly-owned stormwater best management practices, projects for the remediation of contaminated brownfield properties and land conservation projects.  Eligible Brownfield loan recipients are units of local government, public service authorities, partnerships or corporations, and eligible land conservation recipients are state and local governments, public service authorities, and registered nonprofit organizations.

“Special consideration may be give to projects that meet the Green Project Reserve guidelines (online as a PDF at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Water/ConstructionAssistanceProgram/Green_Project_Reserve_Info.pdf?ver=2014-03-07-182359-110).

“Finally, we are also accepting applications for Living Shoreline projects.  Local governments (which are the only eligible applicants for this program) can either apply for financial assistance in order to directly establish living shorelines themselves or establish a local government funding program for individual citizens to establish living shorelines on their properties to protect or improve water quality.  We anticipate that the [State Water Control Board] should have over $100 million in funds available for distribution during FY 2018.  Should demand for good water quality or public health related projects exceed availability, these funds may be leveraged in the municipal bond market to increase the amount of assistance available.”

The DEQ expects to present a proposed funding list to the Virginia State Water Control Board in September or October 2017.

Application details are available online at the Web site listed above.  For more information, contact Walter Gills, Va. DEQ, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218; phone: (804) 698-4133; e-mail: walter.gills@deq.virginia.gov.

Water Quality and Agriculture in Shenandoah River Watershed in Virginia are Focus of Report Released in April 2017 by Environmental Integrity Project

On April 26, 2017, the non-profit organization Environmental Integrity Project (headquartered in Washington, D.C., and Austin, Tex.; online at https://www.environmentalintegrity.org/) released a report documenting water quality problems from bacteria and phosphorus in the Shenandoah River watershed in Virginia (counties of Augusta, Page, Rockingham, and Shenandoah); documenting the amount of waste generated in the region by cattle and poultry operations; asserting that waste from agricultural operations in the watershed are largely responsible for the pollution; and asserting the Commonwealth should do more to reduce water-quality impacts from agricultural operations.

The report is available online at https://www.environmentalintegrity.org/news/livestock-pollution-on-shenandoah/.

According to the report’s Executive Summary, the report was based on analysis of pollution management plans for 675 farms, inspection reports in 2014-2016 from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In May 2017, news media reported that some farmers and state regulators were asserting that the report failed to account adequately for efforts being made to reduce impacts on water quality from agricultural operations in the Shenandoah Valley.

Some news media articles about the report and related issues are the following (listed from oldest to newest):
Virginia faulted for handling of cattle pollution in Shenandoah, Bay Journal, 4/26/17.
A billion gallons of liquid cow manure is generated yearly in the Shenandoah Valley, fouling waterways, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/26/17.
Nearly 200 million chickens, turkeys and cows are making a mess of the Shenandoah River, Washington Post, 4/26/17.
Progress is being made on non-point source pollutants, Northern Virginia Daily, 5/11/17.  [Comment by staff person at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District on implementation of stream fencing, nutrient management plans, education, and other activities to reduce the kinds of polluted runoff cited in the report.]
Local farmers, regulators critical of environmental group’s report, Waynesboro News Virginian, 5/14/17.

Lower Chickahominy River Watershed is Subject of Va. Coastal Zone Management Program Request for Proposals Due August 1, 2017

The Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program is seeking proposals from Virginia’s public academic institutions to conduct an analysis of costs and benefits of land conservation and natural resource protection in the lower Chickahominy River watershed.

For a detailed request for proposals document, contact Beth Polak, Coastal Planner, Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, phone (804) 698-4260, e-mail: Beth.Polak@deq.virginia.gov.

Proposals are due by August 1, 2017.

Funding for the requested proposals is through Section 309 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.  Background on the Federal Section 309 Program is available online (as a PDF) at https://coast.noaa.gov/czm/enhancement/media/Sect-309_Guidance_June2014.pdf.

Virginia Resource Management Planning is Focus of Stakeholder Advisory Group Convening May 17, 2017

May 17, 2017, is the date of the first meeting of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board’s Resource Management Plan Implementation Stakeholder Advisory Group.  The meeting will start at 1:30 p.m., at the State Capitol, Senate Room 3, 1000 Bank Street in Richmond.

The Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting is online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=25976.  According to that notice, “Item 364 Q of the [Virginia General Assembly’s] 2017 Appropriations Act requires the Department of Conservation and Recreation [DCR] to establish a stakeholder group to examine the funding, training, and resource needs, as well as explore new incentives, for additional implementation of Resource Management Plans.”

DCR information on resource management planning is available online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-water/rmp.

For more information about the advisory group, contact Christine Watlington, DCR Senior Policy and Planning Analyst, 600 East Main Street, 24th Floor, Richmond, 23219; phone (804)786-3319; e-mail: christine.watlington@dcr.virginia.gov.

Teaching Trees Workshop, July 19-20, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va.

Teaching Trees, a teacher-training workshop on forest ecology, management, and utilization, will be held July 19 and 20, 2017, in Charlottesville.  The workshop is organized by the Skyline Chapter of Society of American Foresters, Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and other partners.  For more information, visit http://register.ext.vt.edu/search/publicCourseSearchDetails.do?method=load&courseId=31615&selectedProgramAreaId=25575&selectedProgramStreamId; or contact Ellen Powell, phone (434) 220-9083, e-mail: ellen.powell@dof.virginia.gov.

Reforestation for History, Habitat, and Water Quality at Prince William County, Va., Civil War Battlefield

In Spring 2017, volunteers and the Prince William County, Va., Department of Public Works planted over 160 native tree seedlings in Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park in an effort to help restore the appearance of the area as it was during the Civil War.  The reforestation effort also aims to improve wildlife habitat and water quality in and around a park stream that flows into Broad Run (a Potomac River tributary), which is on Virginia’s impaired-waters list.  A description of the project is available in Seeing the Forest Through the Trees at Bristoe Station Battlefield, Prince William Living, 4/24/17.