Category Archives: Land Use

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

Dan River Basin Interactive Map Under Development in 2018

As of early 2018, the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) was continuing work on an online, interactive map of the basin.  The map is available at http://www.danriver.org/interactive-map.  Ultimately it is envisioned to show river access points, trails, parks, cultural/historical attractions, visitor centers, and river clean-up locations.  For more information, visit DRBA’s main Web site at http://www.danriver.org/; or phone (315) 209-5055 for the Danville, Va., office or (336) 627-6261 for the Eden, N.C., office.

How’s the Health of Virginia’s Forests? Find Some Answers in the January 2018 Issue of Forest Health Review, from the Virginia Department of Forestry

The January 2018 issue of Forest Health Review, from the Virginia Department of Forestry’s (VDOF) Forest Health Program, is available online at http://dof.virginia.gov/infopubs/index.htm#ForestHealth.  Previous issues of the newsletter are also accessible at that link.

The January 2018 issue includes updates on the following forest health topics:
Pine Bark Beetle Prevention Program;
Emerald Ash Borer (confirmed in 8 more Virginia counties in 2017);
Variable Oakleaf Caterpillar;
Work by DOF’s Forest Health Liaison Staff;
Gypsy Moth Impacts in 2017;
White Pine Update;
Coneworm Trapping;
Early Detection Rapid Response Survey.

The publication also includes a “Forest Health Calendar” to call attention to the timing of specific concerns throughout the year, and a forest health crossword puzzle.

More information about the VDOF Forest Health Program is available online at http://dof.virginia.gov/health/index.htm;  or contact Program Manager Lori Chamberlin at (434) 220-9026, lori.chamberlin@dof.virginia.gov; or Specialist Katlin Mooneyham at (434) 220-9060, katlin.mooneyham@dof.virginia.gov.  The VDOF main office is at 900 Natural Resources Drive in Charlottesville.

Road Salt Management Strategy for Northern Virginia is Focus of Dept. of Environmental Quality Meeting in Arlington Jan. 17, 2018, and Formation of Stakeholder Advisory Group

On January 17, 2018, in Arlington the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) held a meeting on the development of a Salt Management Strategy (SaMS) for the Northern Virginia region.  Subsequently, the DEQ formed a Stakeholder Advisory Group on this issue; that group met for the first time on February 27, 2018.

Following is background on the issue and the advisory group, according to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall’s notice for the February 27 meeting (online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=27347):

“This is a notice for the first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for development of the Salt Management Strategy (SaMS).  Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for chloride associated with salt application from snow and ice management have been developed for the Accotink Creek watershed, located in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax.  These TMDLs are currently in the approval process.  The SaMS is intended to assist in the implementation of the Accotink Creek chloride TMDLs.  The SaMS aims to prepare a strategy that is capable of achieving the target chloride (salt) loads identified in the Accotink Creek TMDLs and that proactively addresses salt application in the broader surrounding region.  The project area for the SaMS includes Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Manassas, Manassas Park, Falls Church, and Fairfax.  For more information on the SaMS visit http://www.deq.virginia.gov/SaMS.aspx….  All meeting materials related to this project will be posted on the DEQ website at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/SaMS/MeetingMaterials.aspx.”

 

Fuel from Manure on Rockingham County, Va., Farm is Subject of 12/17/17 Bay Journal Article

VA farmer raising row crops, cattle, turkeys – and fuel, Bay Journal, 12/17/17, describes the manure-to-fuel operations on the Rodes family’s turkey farm near Port Republic, Va., in Rockingham County south of Harrisonburg.  According to the article, the farm uses a manure-heating system to produce methane, which in turn is used to heat the farm’s poultry houses (replacing purchased propane).  The article discusses the technological and financial issues and challenges of converting manure to energy, including the potential impacts on nutrients reaching waterways in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

 

Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Grants from Dominion Surry-Skiffes Creek Mitigation Agreement Announced in December 2017

On December 7, 2017, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced nine Fiscal Year 2018 grants, worth a total of about $12.5 million, from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation.  This set of grants was funded by Dominion Energy as part of the company’s $89.5 million mitigation agreement for impacts from the Surry-Skiffes Creek Transmission Line over the James River.  (For more on the Surry-Skiffes Creek line, please see this Water Central News Grouper item.)

This set of Foundation grants follows a set of 23 grants totaling $4.23 million, also for Fiscal Year 2018, announced in October 2017 in the Foundation’s regular annual funding round.

The Foundation was established in 1999 by the Virginia General Assembly for the purpose of helping “fund the purchase of permanent conservation easements, open spaces and parklands, lands of historic or cultural significance, farmlands and forests, and natural areas,” according to the Foundation’s Web site, http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/virginia-land-conservation-foundation/.

More information on the December 2017 grants is available in a 12/7/17 news release from the Governor’s Office, Governor McAuliffe Announces Nearly $12.5 Million in Land Conservation Grants; Projects will protect and interpret at-risk historic sites benefitting the James and York Rivers.

More information on the October 2017 grants is available in a 10/3/17 news release from the Governor’s Office, Governor McAuliffe Announces $4.23 Million in Virginia Land Conservation Grants.

Two Virginia Northern Neck Natural Area Preserves Featured in November 2017 Bay Journal Article

Explore lesser-known preserves on Virginia’s Northern Neck,” by Leslie Middleton for Bay Journal, 11/29/17, focuses on two natural preserve areas on the Northern Neck peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers: Bush Mill Stream Natural Preserve Area in Northumberland County and Hickory Hollow Natural Preserve Area in Lancaster County.  The article is available online at http://www.bayjournal.com/article/explore_lesser_known_preserves_on_virginias_northern_neck, or contact Bay Journal at (717) 428-2819.

More information about all of Virginia’s natural preserve areas, which are managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, is available online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-area-preserves/, or by contacting the Department in Richmond at (804) 786-6124.  The online site for Bush Mill is http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-area-preserves/bushmill; for Hickory Hollow, http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-area-preserves/hickory.

Bush Mill Natural Area Preserve by Leslie Middleton

Bush Mill Stream Natural Preserve Area, Northumberland County, Va., February 2017. Photo courtesy of Leslie Middleton and Bay Journal.

Biosolids Study by Virginia’s JLARC Released October 10, 2017

On October 20, 2017, Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released “Land Application of Biosolids and Industrial Residuals,” a 101-page report called for by the 2016 Virginia General Assembly (HJ 120, online at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?161+sum+HJ120).  The full report, a summary, and the list of recommendations are available online at http://jlarc.virginia.gov/landing-biosolids-2017.asp.  Following is the overview of the study provided by JLARC at that Web site.

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY

In 2016, the General Assembly directed JLARC to study land application of biosolids and industrial residuals in Virginia. The mandate specifically called for staff to analyze the scientific research literature on potential effects on human health and the environment.

ABOUT BIOSOLIDS AND INDUSTRIAL RESIDUALS

Biosolids and industrial residuals are nutrient-rich materials left over at the end of sewage treatment or a manufacturing process. If they meet regulatory standards, these materials are can be applied to farm and forest land as agricultural fertilizers. Biosolids and industrial residuals contain pathogens and chemicals that may pose risks to human health and the environment. To minimize these risks, they are subject to federal and state regulations.

WHAT WE FOUND

Regulations generally protect human health and water quality.

Land application of biosolids and industrial residuals poses some risk to human health and water quality, but the risk is low under current state regulations. This conclusion is based on the best available scientific evidence, but more research could reduce uncertainty.

Even though risk is low, risk is sometimes slightly elevated during land application for nearby residents, who may inhale aerosolized contaminants. During land application, small particles of material become airborne. This material can be inhaled, potentially causing gastrointestinal illness or the common cold.

The state’s regulatory requirements may not adequately mitigate this risk for nearby residents, but only under conditions that are optimal for exposure: when Class B biosolids (which contain pathogens) are applied and nearby residents are downwind and outside for an extended period during application. These conditions present greater risk at a small number of sites that receive far more land applications than other sites.

Regulatory compliance programs are generally effective.

The Departments of Environmental Quality and Agriculture and Consumer Services (DEQ and VDACS) each operate compliance programs that are generally effective. Both agencies’ processes ensure regulatory compliance. DEQ’s process to review and approve land application permit requests is reasonable and appropriately involves the public. VDACS’s process to initially certify products as safe and beneficial is also reasonable.

DEQ’s process to inspect land application sites and correct violations is effective. Although the agency now inspects a lower percentage of land applications than in prior years, it still was able to inspect 31 percent of application sites in 2016.

VDACS has an annual process for registering biosolids and industrial residuals, but its ongoing product verification process is not sufficient in all cases. VDACS does not verify, after its initial certification, that products continue to have acceptably low levels of potentially harmful chemicals.