Governor McAuliffe applauds land conservation funding in Obama budget
Governor McAuliffe on Wednesday expressed his gratitude to President Obama for including up to $37.8 million in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget to fund land conservation projects within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
In his budget the President proposes as much as $32 million for Virginia projects, including the multi-state Captain John Smith Trail. Governor McAuliffe personally contacted numerous federal officials in support of these funds that will benefit Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
The President’s proposal drew heavily from the multi-jurisdictional “Rivers of the Chesapeake” proposal that was supported by a partnership of states, federal agencies, Indian tribes and nonprofit organizations. In the proposed budget, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service will conserve key lands along the Chesapeake’s great rivers that stretch into Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia
“If enacted by the Congress, these funds will protect key land areas for habitat, water quality, scenic views, and cultural resources,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The partnership that worked to include these funds in the President’s budget recognizes the enduring value of our great rivers and the Chesapeake Bay to our economy, our history and our environment.”
Conservation of these lands will support the commitments made when Governor McAuliffe and his counterparts signed the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement that set goals for land conservation and public access to our waters.
“This is a great win for Virginia and our entire region, and it would not have happened without Governor McAuliffe’s leadership and persistence,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “Our continued partnership with the bipartisan multi-state coalition that helped get this funding into the budget will only lead to a healthier Chesapeake Bay watershed and move us closer to a restored Chesapeake Bay.”
Joel Dunn of the Chesapeake Conservancy, a key non-profit partner, stated “Governor McAuliffe has been a particularly charismatic and effective proponent of this proposal. He should be commended for his outstanding leadership.”
The President’s proposal also includes authorization for additions to trails, historical parks and civil war battlefields.
Funding is provided through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund that uses royalties from offshore production of oil and natural gas for conservation projects.