Category Archives: Land Use

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

Chesapeake Bay TMDL Upheld by Federal Appeals Court on July 6, 2015

On July 6, 2015, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, located in Philadelphia, upheld a September 2013 lower court ruling in favor of the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-prevention plan (first published in December 2010), in a lawsuit by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Home Builders Association, and other organizations.  The Appeals Court panel had heard oral arguments in November 2014.

The case is American Farm Bureau v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; case number 13-4079; access to a PDF of the Appeals Court’s opinion is available online at http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinions-and-oral-arguments  (click on the “Search for Opinions” link and use the case number).

EPA information on the TMDL is available online at http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/.   Farm Bureau information about the case is available online at http://www.fb.org/legal/recentDocket/51/.

The Farm Bureau and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit—first filed in January 2011—were appealing the September 13, 2013, ruling in favor of the EPA by Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in the federal district court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  The lawsuit alleged that the EPA exceeded its authority at the expense of state authority, used inaccurate or inadequate scientific information, and followed too short a regulatory timetable in developing the TMDL, but Judge Rambo upheld both the process and substance of the EPA’s actions.

During the appeals process, among the Bay watershed states, Virginia and Maryland filed briefs supporting the EPA; Delaware and the District of Columbia joined in Maryland’s brief; neither Pennsylvania nor New York filed a briefs on either side of the lawsuit; and West Virginia joined 20 other states and several Bay-watershed counties in filed in support of the Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs.  Several of the states supporting the Farm Bureau lawsuit are in the Mississippi River drainage, and part of their concern was that approval of the EPA process in the Chesapeake Bay may lead the agency to seek a TMDL for the impacts on the Gulf of Mexico of agriculture or other land uses in the vast Mississippi River basin.

Sources:
US appeals court upholds Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan, Washington Post, 7/6/15.
Court upholds EPA in putting Chesapeake Bay on ‘pollution diet’, Baltimore Sun, 7/6/15.
Appeals Court hears oral arguments on Chesapeake Bay TMDL, Bay Journal, 11/24/14.
Pennsylvania won’t defend Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan in court, but ‘actively supports it’, Lancaster (Penn.) Online 5/13/14.
Challenge to Chesapeake cleanup tests EPA power, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/29/14.
Virginia Files Amicus Brief In Support Of Chesapeake Bay Restoration, Virginia Attorney General’s Office News Release, 4/10/14.
Fight Over Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up, WVTF-FM (Roanoke, Va.), 2/5/14.
Wicomico [County, Md.] Joins Effort to Modify EPA Chesapeake Cleanup Plan, Delmarva Public Radio, 2/24/14.
Lancaster County [Penn.] joins fight against EPA in setting pollution limits for farmers, Lancaster (Pa.) Online, 2/4/14.
21 states, 8 counties join Farm Bureau challenge to Bay TMDL, Bay Journal, 2/5/14.
Virginia growers upset with latest Chesapeake Bay ruling, Southeast Farm Press, 9/18/13.
Judge upholds pollution fight in Chesapeake Bay cleanup, Associated Press, as published in Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/15/13.
EPA can go forward with plan to limit pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, Washington Post, 9/13/13.

Previous Water Central News Grouper items (from 2011 to 2014) on this lawsuit are available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=American+Farm+Bureau+Federation.

Lawsuit Filed by Chesapeake Bay Foundation over Cattle Fencing in Virginia Dismissed in Richmond Circuit Court on July 9, 2015

On July 9, 2015, Richmond, Va., Circuit Court Judge C. N. Jenkins, Jr., dismissed the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia over regulation of cattle access to streams.  Oral arguments had been heard on July 2, 2015.

CBF’s suit argued that a 10-year general permit approved by the Commonwealth in 2014 should have required cattle operations of over 200 head to keep livestock from streams.  Currently Virginia requires stream exclusion for cattle in confined feeding operations (of CAFOs) but not for pastured cattle.  The regulation at issue is “Virginia Pollution Abatement (VPA) General Permit Regulation for Animal Feeding Operations,” Sec. 9 VAC 25-192 in the Virginia Administrative Code; available online at http://register.dls.virginia.gov/details.aspx?id=4388.  CBF contended that the regulation’s prohibition on “applying” waste in streamside areas should apply to waste deposited by cattle, but Judge Jenkins upheld Virginia’s interpretation that the language applies only to human application of animal waste.

Sources:
Richmond court dismisses suit involving cow dung in streams, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/14/15.
Case explores whether cows “apply” their waste to streams, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/2/15.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Sues Va. Over Livestock Rules, Associated Press, as published by Baltimore Sun, 6/29/15.
CBF sues Virginia for not making livestock stream exclusion mandatory, Bay Journal, 6/29/15.
Is livestock dung in streams threatening the Chesapeake?, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/29/15.

Water As A Crop® Initiative Aims to Add Market Value to Water Stewardship

The Sand County Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin, sponsors the Water As A Crop® initiative, which seeks to increase collaboration among water users, funders, and owners of private lands who can implement practices to conserve water or improve water quality.  In Texas, for example, the program worked with the MillerCoors company to help fund agricultural land-management practices that reduce pollution and as a result can reduce water-treatment costs for the company.

The program’s Web site is http://waterasacrop.org/.

An introduction to the program is also available in “Can We Start Thinking of Water as a Crop?” in the Winter 2014 issue of txH20, the newsletter of the Texas Water Resources Institute at Texas A&M University, available online at http://twri.tamu.edu/publications/txh2o/winter-2014/.

Landscape Sustainability Rating and Certification is Focus of SITES, Announced June 10, 2015, by Green Business Certification, Inc.

On June 10, 2015, Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI) released the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) system for rating the sustainability of landscape-development designs and landscape-managment practices.  The SITES Web site defines a “sustainable site” as “a healthy functioning landscape that provides ecosystem services to a diverse group of site users,” and “ecosystem services” are defined as “goods and services of direct or indirect benefit to humans that are produced by ecosystem processes that involve the interactions of living elements, such as vegetation and soil organisms, and non-living elements such as bedrock, water, and air.”  More information about SITES is available online at http://www.sustainablesites.org/, and in the June 10 news release on the launch of SITES, available online at http://www.sustainablesites.org/node/236.

For the role of Virginia Tech Associate Professor Susan Day (Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation) in helping develop SITES guidelines for soil management, see “Virginia Tech professor helps develop new landscape sustainability ratings,” by Tonia Moxley, Roanoke Times, 6/19/15, online at http://www.roanoke.com/news/education/higher_education/virginia_tech/virginia-tech-professor-helps-develop-new-landscape-sustainability-ratings/article_45c2ee02-f508-5bdb-a35c-0ead4b5cfef7.html.

Gypsy Moth Aerial Spraying in mid-June 2015 in Several Southwestern Virginia Counties

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) 6/5/15 news release on aerial spraying for Gypsy Moth in several southwestern Virginia counties from June 15-18, 2015.  This and other news releases from VDACS are available online at http://vdacs.virginia.gov/news/press.shtml.

Gypsy Moth Aerial Treatments Begin June 15 in Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Grayson, Russell, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, and Wythe Counties, 6/5/15.

Excerpt: “The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the United States Department of Agriculture/Forest Service are cooperating in an aerial insecticide application project to suppress and/or eradicate small isolated infestations of the gypsy moth. The treatments [were] scheduled for June 15-18 in the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Grayson, Russell, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, and Wythe.  Treatment areas in these counties [included the following]:

Bland County – Brushy Mountain and Lynn Camp Mountain near the community of Ceres;
Buchanan County – Jewell Ridge area;
Carroll County – Near the communities of Fries, Iron Mountain and Farmers Mountain;
Grayson County – Near the communities of Fries and Iron Mountain;
Russell County – Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area;
Smyth County – Near the town of Saltville in the Poore Valley area and the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area;
Tazewell County – Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Stony Ridge in North Tazewell and the Jewell Ridge area;
Washington County – Near the town of Saltville in the Poore Valley area and the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area;
Wythe County – Near the community of Ivanhoe around Ewing Mountain.

“The treatments are part of the Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread program. Treatment is necessary because the leaf-eating gypsy moth caterpillar can cause dramatic devastation in Virginia’s forests.  These invasive pests are voracious eaters and can completely defoliate entire trees. …The applications [were] conducted using airplanes during daylight hours, weather permitting. …The treatment [consisted] of one application of the gypsy moth mating disruption pheromone Hercon Disrupt II®.  The pheromone hampers the ability of the male gypsy moth to find and mate a female gypsy moth. Information on the Hercon Disrupt II can be found on the manufacturer’s Web site [http://www.herconenviron.com/].

“Information on the gypsy moth and the mating disruption treatments can be found on the [Slow the Spread Web site, at http://www.gmsts.org/index.html], or by contacting the VDACS Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Office at (540) 394-2507.”

What to Do If You Find a Fawn or Other Young Wildlife, According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ May 1, 2015, News Release

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (VDGIF) May 1, 2015, news release on what they recommend for citizen who find young deer or other wildlife.  Other news releases from VDGIF are available online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/news/.

If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries News Release, 5/1/15.

Excerpt
It’s that time of year again when white-tailed deer fawns are showing up in yards and hayfields, and concerned citizens want to know how to help. In almost all cases, the best way to help is to simply give the fawn space and leave it alone. Concerned people sometimes pick up animals that they think are orphaned.

… Most wild animals will not abandon their young, but they do leave them alone for long periods of time while looking for food. Fawns, born from April through July, are purposely left alone by their mothers. Female deer, called does, stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators such as dogs or coyotes to their location.  The white-spotted coat camouflages a fawn as it lies motionless in vegetation.  Does will return several times each day to move and/or feed their young.  You probably will not see the doe at all since she only stays to feed the fawn for just a very few minutes before leaving it alone again.  If less than 24 hours have passed since a fawn has been “rescued,” the fawn should be taken back and released at the exact same location where it was found.  If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, do not take matters into your own hands. You may locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator by calling the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (VDGIF) toll-free wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003, 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday or visit the VDGIF website at: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/problems/.

Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a state permit, which is available only to zoos and wildlife rehabilitators. Each animal’s nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival.

…Wildlife managers have additional concerns about fawn rehabilitation. The process requires deer to be moved, treated (often in contact with other deer), and then released back into the wild.  Often, rehabilitated deer must be released into areas with already high deer populations.  Movement and commingling of deer increase the risks that contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease (CWD), will be introduced into Virginia’s wild deer population. In fact, detections of CWD in Frederick and Shenandoah Counties have prompted the prohibition of deer rehabilitation in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties. See: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd/.

The best advice for someone who wants to help wildlife is to keep it wild. …More information [on deer] can be obtained on the agency’s website: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/deer/.
[End excerpt]

More information on dealing with found wildlife generally is available from the DGIF’s “Injured and Orphaned Wildlife” page, online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/injured/.

Nutrient-management School Offered by Va. DCR in Staunton, June 23-24 and June 29-July 1, 2015.

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s May 12, 2015, news release on nutrient management training in summer 2015.

Nutrient management training to be offered in Staunton, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation News Release, 5/12/15.

Excerpt:
A two-part nutrient management training school will be offered in late June at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton.  The training is open to anyone interested in learning more about the development of agricultural nutrient management plans or how to become a certified plan writer. …

The first session, June 23-24, will cover soil science, soil fertility and crop production.  The second session, June 29-July 1, will cover nutrient management plan writing using a case-study farm.  Both sessions will run 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day.  The fee for each session is $130 per person.  Registration by June 12 is recommended.

Nutrient management plans are guides for applying manure, fertilizers, biosolids, and other soil amendments so that crop yields are maximized, and ground and surface waters are protected from nutrient pollution. Application rates are determined by a process using yield records (or soil productivity when yield records aren’t available).

The training is open to everyone and will give participants an understanding of the process required to develop a nutrient management plan. Exercises will be hands-on and based on real scenarios.

…For more information about training and certification, go to www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil_and_water/nmtrain.shtml.  To register, contact Susan Jones at 804-443-3803 or susan.jones@dcr.virginia.gov[End excerpt]