Grant announced to help water quality in Chesapeake Bay

RICHMOND, Va. – A grant announced by Gov. Ralph Northam will help the state’s Department of Forestry enhance the water quality on the Chesapeake Bay.

According to Northam’s office, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is providing a grant of $850,000 for a regional multi-state proposal led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for water quality efforts in several localities within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), in cooperation with other key partners such as local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, will lead these efforts in the Shenandoah Valley through riparian forest buffers and other innovative livestock stream exclusion practices.

“Responsible stewardship of land and protecting our natural resources, especially the water quality of our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, is more important today than it has ever been,” said Governor Northam. “My administration remains focused on making sure that Virginia continues to play a leadership role in meeting these objectives.”

The big goal is getting land owners and farmers to participate in the existing restoration programs, and VDOF and VCE are hoping that the money will help them crate innovative approaches to doing so. The governor’s office says these approaches include such measures as employing flexible fencing, solar-powered and temporary watering systems, multi-species buffers, natural forest regeneration, silvopasture, and additional financial incentives.

These approaches are part of an ongoing effort by Chesapeake Bay and state officials to restore forested buffers and livestock stream exclusions, both of which are key measures for reducing nutrient and sediment pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

“This grant builds on the great work the farmers and forest landowners continue to contribute to improving water quality,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am thrilled that the Department of Forestry is a part of this partnership.”

The Commonwealth provided matching support for the project, called the Mountains to Bay Grazing Alliance, through the ongoing water quality projects in the Shenandoah Valley funded through the DuPont settlement, according to state officials, who added that the  grant includes $110,000 for VDOF, which will be matched by DuPont settlement funds, to provide 50 acres of forested buffers. VCE is receiving $53,572 to implement innovative practices, such as solar-powered, temporary livestock watering systems.

The DuPont settlement included a payment from DuPont of $42 million for natural resource restoration projects including projects to improve water quality and fish habitat. Over $5 million is dedicated to stream fencing projects to exclude livestock from Shenandoah Valley streams and rivers and to manure management structures that improve water quality.

“This funding will provide critical support to Governor Northam’s commitment to restore the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia rivers,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Through this partnership opportunity, the Commonwealth will spearhead innovative and flexible approaches to implementing farm conservation practices.”

For more on the grant, click here. 

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