Join us as a strong voice for the Rappahannock River

at the state level.

The 2021 General Assembly session starts January 13th. We are prioritizing these issues and will regularly update this page.

We will include info on bill progress and how you can make a difference for the river. Your voices are vital! 

Tree Canopy

Two people planting small tree in dirtRiver Issue: Virginia is losing 16,000 acres of trees every year to development and disease according to the VA Dept of Forestry. When we lose trees in our community, we lose the health, economic, resiliency, and environmental benefits they provide.

Trees intercept millions of gallons of stormwater and serve as effective buffers to rising sea levels, preventing pollutants from entering streams, buffering eroding shorelines and guarding against the increasing effects of recurrent flooding. Trees also absorb the excess nutrients that cause dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay.

Trees help us fight climate change. Not only do they sequester tons of carbon annually, which can help communities achieve their carbon reduction goals, but well-placed trees can reduce residential heating and cooling costs by up to 30%.

Trees can improve the health of our citizens. Trees close to highways remove up to 60% of street-level particulates that cause respiratory problems. Trees cool our city streets, reducing the heat-related emergency room visits that are higher in formerl y redlined communities.

Currently Virginia law limits how localities can maintain and increase tree planting and preservation when sites are being developed.

Legislation:  This legislation would give cities and counties more flexibility to expand tree cover in specific cases: remedying ongoing injustices as a result of redlining, addressing recurrent flooding and meeting permit requirements to reduce pollution to waterways.  It would also let localities establish a tree canopy fund, which developers would pay into when they cannot achieve replacement canopy on the developed parcel. This fund would let localities purchase trees and supplies to plant on municipal property and work with non-profit organizations to give trees away to homeowner

FOR’s Position: We support bills that give localities more flexibility to expand tree cover in specific cases, such as remedying ongoing injustices as a result of redlining, addressing recurrent flooding and meeting permit requirements to reduce pollution to waterways. We currently support:

  • HB2042 – Chief Patron is Delegate Nancy Guy and co-patron is Delegate Joshua Cole and is currently on the House floor
  • Contact your local representatives to let them know you support HB2042

 

Lower Rappahannock Scenic Designation

River Issue: Designating 79 miles of the Lower Rappahannock as a State Scenic River. The following counties have already passed their approval: Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline, King George, Westmoreland, Essex and the City of Fredericksburg. Currently the Upper Rappahannock is designated from its headwaters down through Fredericksburg to the Ferry Farm Bridge.  

Read the full benefits of State Scenic designation here. 

FOR’s Position: We support this legislation and have actively worked with multiple partners to seek the support of the Department of Conservation and Recreation and support from localities along the Rappahannock River. We currently support:

  • HB 1819 – Chief Patron is Delegate Joshua Cole, Co-patrons are Delegate Robert Orrock, Sr, Delegate Mark Cole, Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Delegate Betsy Carr, Delegate Elizabeth Guzman and Senator Richard Stuart.

Funding for Clean Water

Photo by Piedmont Environmental Council

River Issue: The ability of FOR to work for improved health of the Rappahannock River partially relies on the proper funding of clean water programs through Virginia’s state budget. These clean water programs include funding for agricultural best management practices, assistance for stormwater projects for localities, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, and environmental education.

  • Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) to provide much needed funding for stormwater management and flood mitigation in our urban and suburban communities.
    • FOR supports a budget amendment to add $50.9 million to the FY21-22 Proposed Budget. The current budget has zero funding set aside for SLAF.
  • Wastewater treatment plant upgrades to protect water quality and public health in our communities
    • FOR supports a budget amendment to add $390 million to the FY21-22 Proposed Budget. The current budget has zero funding set aside for wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
  • $95 million for the Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share Program to help farmers protect their land with conservation practices and restore their local streams
    • FOR supports a budget amendment to add $60.6 million in addition to the current $35 million in the FY21-22 Proposed Budget.
  • $250,000 for Environmental Education to help fund environmental literacy programs across the state

Legislation: The Administration’s proposed budget provides some funding for clean water programs but statewide needs assessments show more ambitious funding is needed to meet the goals of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.  

FOR’s Position: We will advocate for the proposed funding levels to be included in any final budget bill the General Assembly approves.

We will regularly update this page to provide you information on bill progress and how you can make a difference for the river. Your voices are vital! 

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