Category Archives: Land Use

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

Virginia Forest Landowner Update October 2016 Issue Available – Items on Bears, Forest Fragmentation, Fall Tours, and More

As of September 28, 2016, the latest issue of the Virginia Forest Landowner Update newsletter is available online at

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 October 2016 issue has the following items:
What’s Going on with Bears in Virginia?
The Fragmented Forest;
The Fall Forestry & Wildlife Field Tours Celebrate Their 40th Anniversary!
Useful Resources;
Events Calendar.

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

Ogallala Aquifer Research in Central U.S. States Receives $10 Million USDA Grant in 2016

On March 22, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a four-year, $10 million grant for research on water challenges in the region of the Ogallala Aquifer, a groundwater source providing domestic and agricultural water in several Midwestern and Great Plains states.  The grant will be coordinated by Colorado State University and also involves Kansas State University, the University of Nebraska, New Mexico State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University.  For more information, please see “Ogallala Aquifer is Focus of New USDA-funded Research Project,” in the Spring 2016 issue of Water Current (Vol. 48, No. 2) from the Nebraska Water Center, online at; or USDA Awards $8.5 Million to Improve Communities’ Water Sources, USDA News Release, 3/22/16.

The Ogallala research grant is part of a larger set of USDA grants related to sustainable water for agriculture, under the “Water for Agriculture Challenge Area.”  More information on that program is available online at

For another Water Central News Grouper post on the Ogallala Aquifer, please see, Groundwater Decreases in Texas Portion of Ogallala Aquifer Described in July 2012 Newsletter from Lubbock, Texas, posted 9/24/12.

ogallalaArea underlain by the Ogallala Aquifer.  Map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Ogallala Aquifer Initiative,” online at

41-lake-along-rt-20-in-cherry-county-jul13-2011-used-grouper-9-21-16View from U.S. Rt. 20 in Cherry County, Nebraska, July 11, 2013.  The area is part of Nebraska’s Sand Hills region, which is underlain by the Ogallala Aquifer.

Climate Change and Agriculture are the Focus of the March-April 2016 Issue of Colorado Water

“Climate Smart Agriculture” is the theme of the March/April 2016 issue of Colorado Water, from the Colorado State University (CSU) Water Center and the Colorado Water Institute.

Much of the 40-page newsletter focuses on the Rocky Mountain State, but several articles discuss nationwide and worldwide aspects of climate change, energy use, and their connections to agriculture.  Of particular value in this broader scope are “Global and Local Climate Change: What We Know and Expect”; “Greenhouse Gases and Agriculture”; “Climate Smart Agriculture”; “Looking at Climate Change and Global Food Security”; “Solving the Climate Change Riddle: Reasons for Optimism”; and the list of resources for further reading.

The publication is available online at, or contact the CSU Water Center at 1033 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, Colo. 80523-1033; phone (970) 491-2695; e-mail:


Cover of the March/April 2016 issue of Colorado Water, from the Colorado State University Water Center and the Colorado Water Institute.

Virginia Outdoors Plan Public Meetings in August-September 2016

In August-September 2016, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is holding a series of public meetings on the Virginia Outdoors Plan.  The DCR is working with Virginia’s planning district commissions and regional councils to review outdoor recreation and land conservation initiatives related to the Outdoors Plan, which is a comprehensive blueprint for acquisition, development, and management of outdoor recreation and open space resources.  The first plan was developed in 1966; the most recent update, the 11th, was done in 2013).  More information on the Outdoors Plan is available online at

The 2016 meeting schedule is as follows (meeting dates are hyperlinked to Virginia Regulatory Townhall information):
8/30/16, 10 a.m., at the Northern Neck Enterprise Center, 483 Main Street in Warsaw (Richmond County).
9/6/16, 10:30 a.m., at Tabb Library 100 Long Green Boulevard in Yorktown (York County).
9/7/16, 10 a.m., at the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, 3040 Williams Drive in Fairfax.
9/8/16, 1:30 p.m., at the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, 723 Woodlake Drive in Chesapeake.

For a previous News Grouper item on the Virginia Outdoors Plan, please see Virginia Outdoors Plan 2013 Edition Released April 4, 2014 (posted 5/8/14).

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, 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

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.


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,

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

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