Category Archives: Land Use

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

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Nutrient Credits

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bill’s provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  The bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

HB 2311Nutrient Offset Fund; additional stipulations for the purchase and sale of credits.  This bill, sponsored by Del. M. Kirkland Cox (R-66th District), of Colonial Heights, passed the House on January 23 and as of February 16 had been reported from the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (ACNR) Committee.  As passed by the House, the bill does the following (quotations are from the House-passed bill’s text):

Renames nutrient “offsets” as nutrient “credits…that achieve equivalent point or nonpoint source reductions in the same tributary beyond those reductions already required by or funded under federal or state law or the Watershed Implementation Plan prepared for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load pursuant to § 2.2-218.”

Continues to allow the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) director to enter into contracts to acquire such credits using the Nutrient Offset Subfund; removes the priority given to nutrient offsets produced from facilities that generate electricity from animal waste; and adds a new requirement that credits in the Nutrient Offset Subfund be listed in a registry maintained by the DEQ.

Adds a new provision that the DEQ “shall establish a procedure to govern the distribution of moneys from the Subfund that shall include criteria that address (i) the annualized cost per pound of the reduction, (ii) the reliability of the underlying technology or practice, (iii) the relative durability and permanence of the credits generated, and (iv) other such factors that the Department deems appropriate to ensure that the practices will achieve the necessary reduction in nutrients for the term of credit.”

Continues to require the DEQ director to make nutrient credits available for sale to owners or operators of new or expanded facilities pursuant to § 62.1-44.19:15, and to permitted facilities pursuant to § 62.1-44.19:18.  Adds a requirement that DEQ director “consider recommendations of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade consistent with the requirements of the State Water Control Law (§ 62.1-44.2 et seq.) in the sale of nutrient credits to new or expanding private facilities.”

In Section E, adds “nonpoint” to the allowable source of nutrient credits: “For the purposes of this section, a ‘nutrient credit’ means a nutrient reduction certified by the Department of Environmental Quality as a load allocation, point or nonpoint source nitrogen credit, or point or nonpoint source phosphorus credit under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Nutrient Credit Exchange Program.”

Related News Media Item
New plant on James River to require 1st pollution trade of its kind in VA, Bay Journal, 1/22/17.

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Land Preservation Tax Credit Bills

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

HB 1470, Land preservation tax credit limitations.  Sponsored by Del. R. Lee Ware (R-65th District), of Powhatan, this bill failed in the House Finance Committee.  The bill would have imposed a $2 million limit on the amount of credits that may be claimed for each land conveyance; a $20,000 limit on the annual amount of credits that may be claimed by each taxpayer; a $50,000 cap on the annual amount of credits that may be claimed for a fee simple donation of land to the Commonwealth; and a $50 million cap on the maximum annual amount of credits that may be issued to all taxpayers.

HB 2150, Land preservation tax credit limitations per taxpayer.  Sponsored by Del. Lashrecse Aird (D-63rd District), of Petersburg, this bill failed in the House Finance Committee.  The bill would have extended to taxable year 2017 the $20,000 limit on the amount that a taxpayer may claim per year under the land preservation tax credit, retaining the $50,000 limit for each subsequent taxable year.

SB 963, Land preservation tax credit limitations per taxpayer.  Sponsored by Sen. Emmett Hanger, Jr. (R-24th District), of Mount Solon, passed the Senate on February 3, and as of February 8, was in the House Finance Committee.  A companion bill to HB 2150 (above), the bill would extend to taxable year 2017 the $20,000 limit on the amount that a taxpayer may claim per year under the land preservation tax credit, retaining the $50,000 limit for each subsequent taxable year.

SB 1540, Certain tax credits aggregate caps.  Sponsored by Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R-10th District), of Midlothian, this bill failed in the Senate Finance Committee.  The bill would have reduced the total aggregate caps of the historic rehabilitation tax credit, the research and development expenses tax credit, the major research and development expenses tax credit, and the land preservation tax credit over a period of 10 years, so that no credits were available for any of the credits beginning in 2027.

Related News Media Item

Va. Senate panel kills Sen. Glen Sturtevant’s bill to cap and phase out historic rehab tax credits, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/31/17.

Virginia Forest Landowner Update January 2017 Issue Available – Items on Women Landowners, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Firewise Program, Events, and More

As of February 6, 2017, the latest issue of the Virginia Forest Landowner Update newsletter is available online at http://forestupdate.frec.vt.edu/newsletter/current.html.  Archived editions are also available at that link.

The newsletter is part of the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, which is coordinated by the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in collaboration with several state and federal partners.  Each newsletter focuses generally on applied forest and wildlife management topics, innovations in wood products, exotic invasive species, useful resources for forest owners, non-timber forest products, and upcoming forestry education events.

The January 2017 issue includes the following items:
Women Landowners Network and Learn About Conservation Stewardship;
You Ain’t From Around Here! Exotic Invasive of the Quarter: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug;
Be Safe; Be Firewise;
Virginia’s Century Forest Program;
Useful Resources;
Events Calendar.

For more information about the newsletter of the program, contact Jennifer Gagnon at (540) 231-6391 or jgagnon@vt.edu.

How’s the Health of Virginia’s Forests? Find Some Answers in the January 2017 Issue of Forest Health Review, from the Virginia Department of Forestry

The January 2017 issue of Forest Health Review, from the Virginia Department of Forestry’s (DOF) Forest Health Program, is available online at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/infopubs/index.htm#ForestHealth.  Previous issues of the newsletter are also accessible at that link.

The January 2017 issue includes updates on the following forest health topics:
Blue Ridge PRISM  (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management);
Pine Bark Beetle Prevention Program;
Laurel Wilt Disease;
Gypsy Moth Impacts in 2016;
Oak Decline;
Tornado of February 24, 2016, in central and southern Virginia (including Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest);
Late Season Native Defoliators (Fall webworm, Variable oakleaf caterpillar; orange-striped oakworm);
Rhododendron dieback along the Blue Ridge Parkway;
Emerald Ash Borer (arriving in 15 more Virginia counties in 2016).

The publication also includes a “Forest Health Calendar” of events in 2017.

For more information about the Va. DOF’s Forest Health Program, contact Program Manager Lori Chamberlin at (434) 220-9026 or lori.chamberlin@dof.virginia.gov.

Virginia 2016 State of the Forest Published by Department of Forestry in December 2016

In December 2016, the Virginia Department of Forestry published the 2016 State of the Forest, the department’s most recent annual report of the Commonwealth’s forests.  The report covers forest trends, ecosystem services, conservation, management, water quality, forest health, research, industry and markets, and urban and community forestry.  Access to the report PDF is available online at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/infopubs/index.htm; previous years’ reports are available there, too.

You can contact the Department at 900 Natural Resources Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (434) 977-6555.

You can find contact information for local Department of Forestry office at this link: http://www.dof.virginia.gov/locations/index.htm.

Conservation Plan Program Established by Va. Soil and Water Conservation Board; First Meeting of Stakeholder Advisory Group on January 31, 2017

Starting in late 2016, Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) began establishing a new Conservation Plan Program.  In December 2016, the Board authorized establishment of a stakeholder advisory group for the new program.  The stakeholder group’s first meeting is January 31, 2017,  10 a.m., at Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, 4201 Dominion Boulevard in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for that meeting,  “the SAG will provide guidance and offer recommendations into the resources to be considered, components of a plan, training and certification requirements, and other policy and Program considerations.”

Information about the new program as it develops will be posted on the DCR’s Web site, http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/.  As of January 2017, the current staff contact for the program and the stakeholder group is Christine Watlington, Senior Policy and Planning Analyst, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 600 East Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219; phone (804) 786-3319; e-mail: christine.watlington@dcr.virginia.gov.

Virginia Farmland Preservation Grants for Fiscal Year 2017 Announced on January 4, 2017

On January 4, 2017, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced recipients of farmland-preservation grants for Fiscal Year 2017.  Following is an excerpt from the news release on the grants:

“The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) Office of Farmland Preservation has awarded a total of $500,000 to six localities.  Localities must use the grants to permanently preserve working farmland within their boundaries through local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs.  PDR programs compensate landowners who work with localities to permanently preserve their land by voluntarily securing a perpetual conservation easement.  VDACS allocated nearly $87,000 each to Albemarle, Fauquier, and Clarke counties as well as the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.  Warren County will receive more than $65,000.  These grant allocations bring the total allocation of state matching funds to more than $11.9 million since 2008 when PDR funds were first distributed. …

“This is the tenth time that the Commonwealth has provided state matching funds for certified local PDR programs.  Of the 22 local PDR programs in Virginia, 18 have received local funding over the past few years.  To date, more than 11,400 acres on 80 farms in 15 localities have been permanently protected in part with $10.5 million of these funds.  Additional easements are expected to close using the remaining funds over the next two years.

“Localities interested in creating a PDR program or applying for future rounds of grant applications for PDR matching funds should contact the VDACS Office of Farmland Preservation Coordinator Andy Sorrell at Andrew.Sorrell@vdacs.virginia.gov or call (804) 786-1906.”

Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces $500,000 in Farmland Preservation Grants; Four counties, two cities receive funds to place working farmlands under permanent conservation easements, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 1/4/17.

More information from the VDACS on farmland preservation is available online at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/conservation-and-environmental-farmland-preservation.shtml.