Agrihoods and more. Blending Farming and Real Estate Development

There are all sorts of factors influencing agriculture these days -- at many different levels. One is certainly the increase in demand for locally sourced food. It's worth visiting an Urban Land Institute report we missed when it came out in 2016 -- Cultivating Development: Trends and Opportunities at the Intersection of Food and Real Estate. The report cites USDA statistics on "local food" sales which grew from $5 billion in 2008 to $12 billion in 2014 and were expected to hit $20 billion by this year. There were five times as many farmers markets in the US in 2016 ...

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President Signs Major Public Lands Bill

On Tuesday, March 12, President Trump signed into law S.47, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, in an Oval Office ceremony surrounded by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The bill was made up of more than 100 individual bills introduced by 50 Senators and several House members. The Act, passed overwhelmingly by the Senate and the House in recent weeks, has been touted as the most significant piece of conservation legislation in many years. The Chesapeake watershed is one of the beneficiaries of the Act, through designation of the ...

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Communicating About Conservation Values

Land trusts and conservationists gathered last week in Virginia to work on communications and messaging strategies for talking about land protection. Participants explored a narrative around which unified and tailored messaging can be built, learned the formula for effective messaging, and practiced message development. This was the second in a series of state-wide training sessions designed to facilitate more effective communications supporting land conservation. It was convened by Virginia's United Land Trusts and organized in collaboration with the Chesapeake ...

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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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