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Video: Building Bike and Pedestrian Connections in Charlottesville and Albemarle.

Video: Building Bike and Pedestrian Connections in Charlottesville and Albemarle.

The Piedmont Environmental Council is working with a diverse coalition of organizations and communities to envision and implement a comprehensive network of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure that is safe, inclusive, nature-full and useful for transportation in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Take Action to Support Conservation Funding

Take Action to Support Conservation Funding

At this point in the 2021 Virginia General Assembly, the House and Senate versions of the budget have passed their respective chambers and a conference committee has been assigned to work out the differences. While we believe many of our conservation funding priorities are well-positioned, we’re making a final push to help ensure they make it into the final budget. 

And that’s where you come in. The budget conferees are on an abbreviated timeline to work out any differences and decisions will be made swiftly. Now is the time for you to show support for funding that Virginia relies on to protect natural resources and farmland, and expand public access.

Though it’s always helpful for people to contact their own delegate/senator, this week the focus is on communicating with the General Assembly members in the budget conference committee. See the list below for contact information.

PEC Budget Priorities

Below is the short list of amendments/asks that PEC is focused on. For a longer list of funding priorities that our partners in the conservation community are working on, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

  • SUPPORT senate amendment 385 #1s Historic Properties Catalogue – $250,000
    This amendment by Senator McClellan provides $250,000 for the purpose of surveying of historic properties related to untold histories, providing for a more inclusive state database of historic properties.

  • SUPPORT full funding for the Farmland Preservation Fund – $2 million
    Delegate Gooditis placed an amendment in the house for $2 million. It was included in the house budget at an additional $1 million (but the senate version provides no increase). This program supports local purchase of development rights programs with matching funds.

  • SUPPORT full funding of the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation
    Full funding of this program would be $16 million according to state code. Though given the need, one could argue for even greater levels. The introduced budget contained $10 million and the house kept that amount. However, the senate budget took $3.5M out and placed a hold on an additional $5M for two specific projects.

    Ultimately, whatever the amount determined, we should not encourage the use of those funds for projects picked by the legislature (the $5M). This ignores the purpose of the independent VLCF Board appointed to make those decisions using an established criteria. If it is the will of the committee to fund the projects specified in the senate budget, then it should be accomplished through a specific allocation.

  • SUPPORT $40 million for multi-use trails in senate budget (from CARES Act)
    This funding was a welcome surprise. While the full amount is already allocated for specific projects, we welcome this infusion. This provision recognizes the importance of trails and shines a spotlight on the need for future funding.

  • SUPPORT full funding for Agricultural Best Management Practices (Ag BMPs) – $100 million
    While the house budget funded Ag BMPs at a higher level than the senate, the actual needs assessment calls for $100 million per year. This funding is critical if we are to hit the targets called for in the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for the Chesapeake Bay. 

  • SUPPORT $250,000 to study the health and environmental impacts of gold mining
    The house budget includes $250,000 to study the health and environmental impacts of the mining of gold, pursuant to House Bill 2213. This effort is essential if we are to ensure regulations adequately protect the public health and environment. 

Contact the Budget Conferees

Members of the House/Senate budget conference committee will ultimately decide which amendments/initiatives move forward. Please contact the conferees below to express your support for conservation funding, especially if your own delegate/senator is one of them.

House Budget Conferees

Del. Luke Torian52(703)
Del. Mark Sickles43(703)
Del. Betsy Carr69(804)
Del. Roslyn Tyler75(434)
Del. David Bulova37(703)
Del. Barry Knight81(757)
Del. Terry Austin19(540)

Senate Budget Conferees

Sen. Janet Howell32(703)
Sen. George Barker39(703)
Sen. Louise Lucas18(757)
Sen. Mamie Locke2(757)
Sen. Creigh Deeds25(434)
Sen. Tommy Norment3(757)
Sen. Emmett Hanger24(540)
Sen. Dick Saslaw (advisor)35(703)
Sen. Stephen Newman (advisor)23(434)

Conservation funding priorities for Virginia’s environmental community

*List pulled together by our partners at the Virginia League for Conservation Voters.

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

  • $100 million per year for the Virginia Agriculture Cost Share program.
  • At least $80 million per year for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund.
  • At least $55 million per year to upgrade wastewater facilities.

Land Conservation

  • $20 million per year for the Virginia Land Conservation Fund.
  • Full funding of the Farmland Preservation Fund of $2 million.

Outdoor Recreation

  • $5 million for multi-use trail development.
  • $40 million for a statewide multi-use trail initiative.

Environmental Enforcement

  • Re-allocation of $12 million for the Department of Environmental Quality.
  • Full funding of Governor Northam’s proposed budget for all other natural resources agencies.

Specific Budget Amendments:

  • Budget item #307 #1s: $60,000 in FY22 for PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) Drinking Water Study.
  • Budget item #124 #1h: $250,000 to study the health and environmental impacts of gold mining.
  • Budget item #385#1s: $250,000 to expand Virginia’s historical property catalogue to include underrepresented African American and indigenous communities.
  • Budget item #125 #1h: $5 million the second year from the general fund for the Electric Vehicle Rebate Fund consistent with the provisions of House Bill 1979.
  • Budget item #442 #2h: $500,000 for DRPT to study the Commonwealth’s current public transportation system focusing on the equitable delivery of transportation services and the modernization of transit in the Commonwealth.
  • Budget item 442 #3s: provides $5 million in federal funds to the Transit Ridership Incentive Program.
  • Budget item 443 #1s: provides $137.6 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Act to extend intercity passenger rail service from Roanoke to the Blacksburg-Christiansburg area and increase passenger rail service along the I-81/Route 29 Corridor from Washington, D.C.
  • Budget item #376 #1h: “Advanced Recycling Study” directs the Department of Environmental Quality to study Advanced Recycling, and report its findings to the Chairs of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committees by December 31, 2021.

View even more budget issues/bills that the environmental community is paying attention to this session on the Virginia Conservation Network’s website

Week Ahead for February 15: Presidents’ Day Edition

Today is Presidents’ Day, and what better a time to get this newsletter out to you than on a national holiday! In these times when it may seem powerless to affect what happens in federal government, perhaps this is a good day to learn more about what’s happening locally. That’s where this newsletter comes in each and every week. Thanks for reading and please send it on to someone you think might benefit from the information.

Greene Comprehensive Plan Public Hearing Rescheduled for Feb 17

I wanted to give you a brief update on Greene County’s comprehensive plan review process. The planning commission’s initial public hearing was scheduled to take place a few weeks ago on January 20, but since the meeting ran long, they decided to postpone it to allow for better public participation.

The initial comprehensive plan public work session and public hearing has been rescheduled for next Wed., February 17 at 6:30 PM. It is now the first item on the planning commission’s agenda. As I mentioned in my previous email, this is a great opportunity to get an overview of the existing comprehensive plan, as well as to learn about the county’s anticipated timeline for completing the comprehensive plan review this year.