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Northam announces historic investments in cultural, natural resource conservation

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Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that his proposed budget includes $10 million to conserve historic and cultural sites that are important to Virginia’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and $12 million in one-time funding for Tribal land re-acquisition.

These proposals are part of Virginia’s ongoing commitment to pursue historic justice and protect and conserve places that make the Commonwealth special.

“Protecting the historic landmarks of all people helps us tell a more inclusive and accurate story of the past,” Northam said. “All of Virginia’s history deserves to be told and this funding will make that happen.”

The proposal dedicates $10 million over two years to establish the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Conservation Fund to conserve historic and cultural sites. Legislation will be introduced in the 2022 session to make this funding permanent, ensuring conservation efforts will continue.

The fund will be the first in the Commonwealth dedicated to conserving, rehabilitating, and interpreting the historic landmarks of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This fund will protect historic schools, churches, cemeteries, burial sites, sacred Tribal sites, and other endangered historic sites in Virginia.

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation will receive $12 million in the budget to help Tribal Nations acquire and protect their ancestral and historic land. In 2021, Governor Northam’s budget provided a one-time appropriation for the Chickahominy Indian Tribe to acquire historic land called Peace Hill Mamanahunt. The outgoing budget provides the other Tribal Nations in Virginia with a similar opportunity to acquire and preserve ancestral lands of significance to ensure Tribes have a place to continue sacred traditions, share their stories and celebrate their rich history.

“Today marks an important step in our efforts to build a more equitable Commonwealth,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “Access and ownership of traditional tribal lands allows for cultural and historic preservation as well as economic empowerment for Tribal Nations. This is an important moment of historic justice as the Commonwealth takes another step towards restoring trust with this community and others by investing in the preservation of historic and ancestral sites of Tribal Nations and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.”

“Land conservation has many purposes. It protects scenic vistas and viewsheds, supports wildlife and ecosystem health, and provides places for outdoor recreation,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings. “Gov. Northam’s investments and creation of a BIPOC conservation fund shows conservation must also play an important role in ensuring historic justice and that places of importance to all Virginians are protected in perpetuity.”

augusta free press
augusta free press