Category Archives: Land Use

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

Four Alternative Proposals for Crossing Virginia’s Hampton Roads Evaluated in Environmental Impact Statement Released Aug. 5, 2016; Public Comment Period through Sept. 19, 2016

On August 5, 2016, he Federal Highway Administration and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) released an environmental-impact study of four proposed improvements to the crossing of southeastern Virginia’s Hampton Roads (where the Elizabeth River, James River, and Nansemond River merge and flow into the Chesapeake Bay), including possible expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel (MMMBT) or construction of new crossings.

According to VDOT’s “Hampton Road Crossing Study SEIS” Web site (“Frequently Asked Questions,” online at http://www.hamptonroadscrossingstudy.org/faqs/default.asp), the four alternatives are the following:
A.  Improvements to I-64 from I-664 in Hampton to I-564 in Norfolk, “largely confined to existing right-of-way.”
B.  Same improvements to I-64 as Alternative A, plus improvements to I-564 from I-64 in Norfolk and across the Elizabeth River via a new bridge/tunnel; a new roadway along the east side of Craney Island to Route 164 in Portsmouth; and Improvements to Route 164 to connect to I-664.
C.  Improvements to I-564 from I-64 in Norfolk and across the Elizabeth River via a new bridge/tunnel; a new roadway along the east side of Craney Island to Route 164 in Portsmouth; and widening of I-664 from I-64 in Hampton to I-264 in Chesapeake, including a new crossing parallel to the I-664 MMMBT and between I-664 and I-564, north of Craney Island.
D.  A combination of the sections that comprise Alternatives B and C, but with no dedicated transit-only lanes.  According to a Virginian-Pilot article on the impact study, the “estimated costs range from $3.3 billion for Alternative A to $12.5 billion for Alternative C.”  The “Hampton Roads Crossing Study Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” is available online at http://www.hamptonroadscrossingstudy.org/.

The environmental impact study will be open for public comment through September 19, 2016.  Public hearings on the study will be held Sept. 7 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, 1610 Coliseum Drive in Hampton; and Sept. 8 at the Quality Suites Lake Wright, 6280 Northampton Boulevard in Norfolk (both hearings will be 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.).

Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board is expected to choose a preferred alternative by the end of 2016, after which the proposal would go through a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting process.

Sources:

Hampton Roads Crossing Study Released; Public Invited to Comment on Findings before Alternative is Chosen, Virginia Department of Transportation News Release, 8/5/16.

Public can comment on water crossing choices before project chosen later this year, Virginian-Pilot, 8/5/16.

The Geology of Virginia Published in July 2016 by Virginia Museum of Natural History

On July 25, 2016, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the release of The Geology of Virginia by the Virginia Museum of Natural History.  According to James Beard, the Museum’s curator of earth sciences, the new publication is the first comprehenisve review of Virginia geology in over 100 years, covering regional, historical, economic, and hazards geology, along with fossil life.  The book is available for purchase at the Museum in Martisnville or online at the Museum’s Web site, http://www.vmnh.net/.

Source:   Governor McAuliffe Announces Publication of Geology of Virginia, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 7/25/16.

Flood-mitigation Grants Announced in July 2016 by Va. Governor’s Office

On July 1, 2016, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced $2.8 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood-mitigation grants that will be used to acquire and removal of six flood-prone residential properties and to elevate seven other residences.  The projects, which require voluntary homeowner participation in order to proceed, would be in Prince William County and in the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach.  The grants are to be administered by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

More information about FEMA’s flood-mitigation programs is available online at http://www.fema.gov/flood-mitigation-assistance-program.

Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces $2.8 Million in Flood Mitigation Grants, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 7/1/16.

Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund – Applications for Fiscal Year 2017 Due by July 15, 2016

July 15, 2016, is the deadline to apply to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for financial assistance in Fiscal Year 2017 through the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund (VCWRLF).  The DEQ’s Web site for the FY 2017 program is online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/CleanWaterFinancingAssistance/FY2017AnnualSolicitation.aspx.  Here is an excerpt from that Web site:

“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; project 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 given to projects that meet the Green Project Reserve guidelines.  This year, for the first time, [DEQ is] 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 to establish a local government funding program for individual citizens to establish living shorelines on their properties to protect or improve water quality.”

The DEQ expects to have over $100 million available for distribution during FY 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.

The DEQ expects to present a proposed funding list to the Virginia State Water Control Board in September or October 2016.

Emerging Invasive Species in the Mid-Atlantic are the Focus of Workshop in Laurel, Md., July 11, 2016

Invasive plants, insects, and plant pathogens will be on the agenda during Emerging Invasive Species in the Mid-Atlantic, July 11, 2016, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Patuxent National Wildlife Visitor Center in Laurel, Maryland.  The workshop is  organized by the Mid Atlantic Early Detection Network, Maryland Extension Service, Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Council, and University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.  For more information, visit http://www.eddmaps.org/midatlantic/workshop2016.cfm.

On Virginia Water Radio for 6-27-16: Sounds for a Century of Work by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode, for the week of June 27, 2016, is “Fish, Wildlife, Habitats, and Human Interactions on the Agenda Since 1916 for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.”  The 3 min./47 sec. episode, available online http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2016/06/episode-322-6-27-16-fish-wildlife.html, introduces this Virginia state natural resources agency for the agency’s 100th anniversary (on June 17, 2016).

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, First Opened on June 17, 1916

On June 17, 2016, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, or VDGIF, celebrated its 100th anniversary.  According to the VDGIF’s first annual report (September 29, 1917),  the department started out on June 17, 1916, in “the cloak room of the Senate Chamber in the Capitol,” and proceeded to appoint game wardens “as fast as the boards of supervisors of the different counties and the councils of the different cities furnished lists of ten suitable persons from which the law required the Commissioner to select the wardens.”  From that modest beginning, VDGIF has grown into today’s agency with its central office in Richmond; regional offices in Charles City, Fredericksburg, Forest, Marion, and Verona; district offices in Blacksburg, Chesapeake, and Farmville; and nine fish hatcheries across the Commonwealth.  The department is overseen by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, currently with 11 members.

Boating, fishing, hunting, wildlife management (both game and non-game), conservation policing, and education are the department’s main areas of work.  According to the department’s Web site (http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/), VDGIF’s mission is the following: “to manage Virginia’s wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating, and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; to promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; [and] to provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia’s fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities.”

The VDGIF Web site on the anniversary is http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/100/, and a special 100th anniversary edition of the department’s magazine, Virginia Wildlife, is available online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/virginia-wildlife/.  You can contact the department’s main office at P.O. Box 90778, Henrico, VA 23228-0778; phone (804) 367-1000.  The regional offices, district offices, and fish hatcheries are all listed at this Web site: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/about/offices/.

For a news media account of the department’s first 100 years, see “Virginia wildlife agency turns 100,” by Bill Cochran in The Roanoke Times, 6/12/16, online at http://www.roanoke.com/sports/outdoors/bill-cochran-wildlife-agency-celebrates-years-of-success/article_30599d02-d671-5cea-9b29-e763592c22dd.html.

For an audio take on the department’s anniversary, please have a listen to Virginia Water Radio Episode 322 (6-27-16).  Please note that much of the information in that podcast is included in this post.  The online show notes, however, have some additional references, images, and correlation to suggested Virginia Standards of Learning in science and social studies.

VDGIF photo The cover of the 100th anniversary issue of Virginia Wildlife, the magazine of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  Image accessed at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/100/, June 22, 2016.