U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) applauded U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement today that Virginia projects will receive over $18 million in federal funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration through the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). USDA announced today that the RCPP will allocate more than $370 million in competitive grants for conservation projects across the country for the next two years. As part of the 2014 Agricultural Act, Sens. Warner and Kaine worked with colleagues to streamline USDA conservation programs while designating the Chesapeake Bay as one of the nation’s top conservation priorities.
“These Bay conservation projects are voluntary and locally-driven, and that’s a great way to move us closer to achieving the goal of restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” Sen. Warner said. “We know that these public-private partnerships can leverage significant additional investments, and that’s a key part in delivering cost-effective solutions to clean the Bay.”
“Agricultural conservation is good for farmers and good for the environment,” said Sen. Kaine. “Fostering wide community support for land and water conservation was an important priority of mine as Governor. I was proud to support the 2014 farm bill in the Senate last year that authorized these important measures to protect the Chesapeake Bay and other critical watersheds.”
Virginia Projects Include:
Comprehensive Watershed Conservation in Dairy and Livestock Landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay ($7 million): A large, diverse group of partners will use a “raise the bar” approach that rewards agricultural producers in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania for voluntarily implementing higher-impact conservation practices. The approach will address both water quality degradation and inadequate habitats for fish and wildlife through a combination of comprehensive conservation planning, conservation practice implementation, and strategic habitat restoration.
Accelerating Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans ($5.5 million): This project will support state efforts to accelerate the implementation of targeted conservation efforts in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Implementation will be adapted to each state’s priorities.
Delmarva Whole System Conservation Partnership—From Field to Stream ($5 million): The Nature Conservancy will lead 35 partners in a public-private partnership in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia to achieve significant environmental objectives. These include improved water quality through implementation of advanced nutrient management practices, and enhancing, restoring, and protecting 3,000 acres of high quality wetlands and buffers. Partners estimate that these conservation efforts combined could prevent runoff of 836,000 pounds of nitrogen and 33,000 pounds of phosphorous.
Forests—Fundamental for Conservation in Virginia ($1.3 million): The Virginia Department of Forestry will leverage its partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to support its work with Virginia’s more than 350,000 private forest landowners in adopting accepted forest management practices. These practices provide benefits, including cleaner water in the Chesapeake Bay, restoration of declining plant species, and restoration of wildlife habitat.