Virginia Department of Forestry to receive federal grant to assist in water quality efforts

virginia department of forestryThe 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.”

VDOF and VCE will pursue innovative approaches to encourage owner and farmer participation in existing restoration programs. This includes such measures as employing flexible fencing, solar-powered and temporary watering systems, multi-species buffers, natural forest regeneration, silvopasture, and additional financial incentives. The project will drive restoration of 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.”

“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.”

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. The settlement included, in part, 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.

The grant includes $110,000 for VDOF, which will be matched by DuPont settlement funds, to provide 50 acres of forested buffers. Furthermore, VCE is receiving $53,572 to implement innovative practices, such as solar-powered, temporary livestock watering systems.

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