Several of the bills that we supported are on Governor Northam’s desk awaiting signature. And the budget ended up relatively strong for clean water and farmland protection programs, considering current fiscal constraints.
Here are a few high points:
- The need for outdoor recreation opportunities in Virginia’s communities is starkly apparent in light of COVID, and we applaud legislators for working to address this need by setting aside $10 million for multi-use trail development. It’s especially exciting as our region begins to explore the possibility of a Shenandoah Rail Trail from Broadway to Front Royal.
- New programs that support Virginia’s dairy farmers (introduced by Delegate Gooditis and Senator Obenshain) and add flexibility to the cost-share funding incentives for clean water practices on farms (introduced by Delegate Wilt and Senator Hanger) were both successful.
- Funding for farmland preservation is $1 million more than it has been in past years. This is money localities with Easement Authorities can leverage to conserve more farmland, so a real opportunity for our region.
- Cost-share funding for the implementation of water quality practices on agricultural lands was increased to $65 million from the $35 million that was originally in the Governor’s budget. It is still far short of the state’s own needs assessment of $100 million per year, but it will go a long way toward restoring clean water, creating local jobs, and investing in improved practices on family farms.
- Finally, with your support, two bills passed that create much-needed protections for rivers and streams during the construction of interstate gas pipelines.
Thank you to everyone who took a minute to contact legislators during the recent General Assembly session!