Green news briefs
Gov. McDonnell praises scenic river program
Gov. Bob McDonnell last week praised Virginia’s efforts to preserve its natural wonders on the 40th anniversary of the Virginia Scenic River Program.
McDonnell expanded the program during a ceremony Friday at the James River, closing the statewide Earth Week events.
McDonnell signed legislation designating 81 more river miles as scenic, the most added to the program at one time. The program now includes 610 river miles in 28 separate river segments.
“While we are celebrating the scenic values of our rivers today, we must also remember our obligation to protect the water quality of our rivers, whether they are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed or whether they flow to other basins,” McDonnell said.
“Virginia is blessed to have such vast natural resources, and I am pleased to be able to say that this year, with the leadership of Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly, the most river miles were added to the program since its start 40 years ago.”
Initiated by then-Gov. Linwood Holton and state Sen. FitzGerald Bemiss, the Virginia Scenic River Program helps identify and protect rivers and streams. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation manages the program.
The designated waterways are recognized for their exceptional scenic, recreational, historic and natural characteristics. A strict evaluation is conducted after which the General Assembly must approve and pass legislation, which must be signed by the governor.
At Friday’s ceremony, McDonnell signed the four scenic river bills passed during the 2010 legislative session. Those river segments will become part of the Virginia Scenic River Program on July 1.
2,500 Acres of Forest Preserved in Isle of Wight County
The state and federal governments are collaborating with Isle of Wight County to permanently conserve more than 2,500 acres of forestland and help protect an important source of drinking water for Hampton Roads.
The 2,507 acres that Isle of Wight recently purchased offer a wide variety of public benefits including recreational opportunities on more than five miles of the Blackwater River; forest habitation, especially for the rare longleaf pine; protection of old-growth swamp forest; wildlife conservation; and drinking water protection for more than 700,000 residents of Norfolk, Virginia Beach and portions of Chesapeake and Portsmouth.
The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Land Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the funding possible for a permanent conservation easement on the property.
The funding included:
- $850,000 in federal Forest Legacy funds secured by the Virginia Department of Forestry
- $566,000 to be contributed by the Virginia Land Conservation Fund
- $75,000 to be funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act program
“The conservation of these 2,500 acres is another step forward towards our goal of conserving 400,000 additional acres of Virginia land by the end of my term,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said last week.
State Forester Carl Garrison said the protected land offers opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, walking, hiking, bird-watching and many other recreational activities.
“We are very excited to be partnering with Isle of Wight County and our colleagues at DCR (the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation) to ensure that a significant portion of this property remains a working forest,” Garrison said.
“And we are grateful to the Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their help in this regard.”
For more information on the Web, visit: The Virginia Department of Forestry at www.dof.virginia.gov and the US Fish and Wildlife Services at www.fws.gov.