Permit for Disputed James River Power Line Revoked

For years, a broad coalition of citizens and conservationists as well as agencies and experts told the U.S Army Corps of Engineers an environmental impact statement must be prepared for Dominion Power's proposed transmission line across the James River, just downstream from Jamestown. The Corps disagreed and in 2017 permitted the "Surry-Skiffes Creek" line along with its 17 new towers in the river. On Friday, March 1, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated the permit and ordered the Corps to conduct the environmental impact statement. ...

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Governor Wolf Proposes Restore Pennsylvania Fund

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently proposed a major initiative to fund a wide range of infrastructure in the Commonwealth, including stormwater management, flood control and green infrastructure. "Restore Pennsylvania" -- funded by a natural gas severance tax -- would invest $4.5 billion over the next four years on a range of projects.The initiative would provide new funding for environmental projects and new recreational opportunities, among them: Infrastructure and maintenance in state parks; creation and revitalization of new local parks; and funding for new ...

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Conserving Land, Square Foot by Square Foot

We almost always talk of land conservation goals in terms of acres, especially when thinking at the landscape scale. But 70 percent of the Chesapeake watershed's population lives in urban areas. And that's where counting conservation progress in smaller increments is just as important to our quality of life. Casey Trees, a non profit organization focused on restoring and protecting the tree canopy of Washington DC, is beginning to get into the conservation easement business. In 2018, the organization worked with the District's Department of Housing and Community ...

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Senate Passes Major Conservation Bill

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the "Natural Resources Protection Act", touted as the biggest conservation bill of the decade, by a vote of 92 to 8. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where passage is reportedly also expected. The 662 page bill has significant conservation benefits for the western U.S. including expanding wilderness protection by 1.3 million acres, and withdrawing lands around Yellowstone National Park from mining. A number of new parks are protected as well. It also reauthorizes the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, ...

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Get Ready: Region’s Sea Level Rise Highest on East Coast

A trio of new reports set out the challenge posed in the Chesapeake Bay region by sea level rise and the policy options for addressing it, focusing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The underlying challenge: "Due to the combination of land subsidence and sea level rise ... tide gauges across the Chesapeake and mid-Atlantic indicate relative water level rise ... [as] the highest of the entire Atlantic seaboard and among the highest worldwide." An overview publication -- "Mainstreaming Sea Level Rise Preparedness in Local Planning and Policy on Maryland's Eastern Shore" ...

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2018 Farm Bill Supports More Land Conservation

The 2018 Farm Bill, enacted in December, sets out five year funding for a wide range of federal programs. From a Chesapeake conservation perspective this is good news. Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson and Pennsylvania Director Marel King reported on the new Farm Bill and other federal topics at last week's meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Program Principals Staff Committee. Here are a few highlights of their report on the Farm Bill's benefits for conservation (note all numbers are national totals): Regional Conservation Partnership Program ...

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Training Sessions on Messaging for Conservation

Whether you live on a farm or in the city, are a history lover or a hiker, or simply want to drink pure water straight from the tap, the land you live on and around shapes your life. When we conserve land, we invest in our quality of life. Last week, representatives of land trusts and other conservation organizations in Maryland met for the first in a series of intensive training sessions on communicating the values of land conservation. The half day workshop engaged participants with a narrative for land conservation centered on quality of life, and in applying it ...

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2018 Voters Support Conservation – $3 Billion of It

The November 2018 elections proved once again that voters support conservation funding. The Land Trust Alliance reports that 58 city, county or state ballot measures were considered in 23 states on election day. At least 49 of those passed. The Trust for Public Land's LandVote database tracks these ballot measures. 2018 results show voters approved over $3.2 billion in new conservation funding. This means funds that must be dedicated to land acquisition and protection. 2018 results show only one ballot measure in the Chesapeake Bay watershed states. Baltimore ...

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Holistic Approach Needed for Planning Energy Projects

A new report prepared by the Environmental Law Institute for the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership recommends specific actions that Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia may consider to address the impacts of proposed energy projects while improving land conservation outcomes. “The Chesapeake Bay region is home to a diversity of landscapes, historic places, ecosystems, and wildlife as well as an increasing number of pipeline and electricity transmission projects,” said John Griffin, program manager for the Partnership. “Energy facilities present the region with ...

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Reclaiming History

Older woman standing in front of a broken down wood house structure.
The Washington Post reported last week on new findings about the extent of the Rappahannock Tribe's vast range and standing within the Chesapeake region. Archaeologist Julia King and Scott Strickland, an expert in geographic information systems, have used archaeological, environmental and historical data to predict the locations of Rappahannock settlements. As the Post writes, "the emerging story undercuts what Western historians have asserted for 400 years about the shape of native culture when the Europeans arrived in America, and it restores the place of the ...

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