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 Virginia Organizations Receive Grants to Support Cleaner Waters

RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 21, 2013– The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund has announced the recipients of $2.5 million in grants for twelve projects in the state of Virginia to support restoration and outreach initiatives across the state’s Chesapeake Bay watershed.

This funding is part of a larger pool of $9.2 million in grants, announced in Washington D.C. last month,which will support thirty additional multi-state projects to restore the Chesapeake Bay. This year’s projects will use both innovative and well-known ways to create cleaner waters, restore habitat and strengthen iconic species such as brook trout and oysters, and engage homeowners and residents in environmental work supporting their community’s quality of life.

Officials from NFWF and the EPA, along with private donors and community members, gathered at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Richmond’s East End today to announce the recipients of Virginia grants. Richmond-based Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT), recipient of a nearly $180,000 grant to install edible rain gardens in Richmond, was honored at the site where they will begin their project installation. CHAT’s East End Edible Rain Garden Project will demonstrate how implementing stormwater best management practices can have an immediate and positive impact on communities. Funding from the CBSF will support CHAT’s mission to equip and serve youth in the East End and provide fresh, healthy produce to their program participants.

“Through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, NFWF and our partners are making important investments across the Bay watershed that restore water quality, benefit fish and wildlife habitat, and strengthen local communities,” said Jake Reilly, Director of Chesapeake Bay Programs at NFWF. “This innovative public-private partnership, supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies including the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service, and private companies including Altria, Shell, CSX, Wal-Mart, and FedEx continues to provide a critical local funding source for conservation that maximizes outcomes for Bay restoration."

The Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program (INSR), funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), awarded $6.6 million to 20 projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed with recipients providing more than $14 million in matching funds. The INSR Program provides grants to innovative and cost-effective projects that dramatically reduce or eliminate the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution into local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. This year, many awardees’ projects show creative, collaborative partnerships that will engage everyone – local government, businesses and citizens – in better approaches for managing runoff from urban, suburban and agricultural lands.

“We’re proud to support these projects because they work. They are community driven and they are great example of people coming together to restore a national treasure like the Chesapeake Bay,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. “Investing in our regional watersheds, along with initiatives in green infrastructure and green jobs, are keys to a healthy environment, resilient communities and a thriving economy.”

The Small Watershed Grants (SWG) Program, funded by a combination of public agencies and private support, awarded $2.6 million to 20 projects in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed with recipients providing $2.2 million in matching funds. The SWG program provides grants to organizations and municipal governments that are working to improve the condition of their local watershed through on-the-ground restoration, habitat conservation and community engagement. Many grant recipients expect to reduce pollution not only through infrastructures such as greener landscapes but through community outreach initiatives to promote sustainable landscaping and improved practices for managing runoff.

This year’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund grant recipients in Virginia include:

  • Church Hill Activities and Tutoring ($178,618) will demonstrate how implementing stormwater Best Management Practices, including innovative approaches for edible rain gardens, can have an immediate and positive impact on communities.
  • Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District ($350,300) will assess farm compliance with the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act to help meet county assessment requirements, including verification of existing farm conservation implementation and evaluation of farm needs for Resource Management Plans on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
  • Gloucester County ($58,995) will install a living shoreline at the John’s Point Public Boat Landing, in partnership with the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the Virginia Department of Transportation, a local volunteer contractor and community volunteers.
  • Rivanna Conservation Society, Inc. ($153,360) will work at numerous sites along polluted Moores Creek, south of Charlottesville, to complete an extreme stream makeover during a six day blitz in April 2014. The project will make the Rivanna’s health the center of community focus during this period, and will serve as an opportunity to educate and engage the public and community leaders.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University ($250,000) will improve health and nutrient pollution across the Shenandoah and Rappahannock River basins by finding common ground around water quality improvement, soil health, and farm-to-table connections.
  • The Elizabeth River Project ($456,000) will reduce lawn over-fertilization within the Chesapeake Bay, which contributes to excessive nutrient loading by working with Virginia communities to standardize and expand this innovative enhancement of nutrient management while making it more cost-effective.
  • Trout Unlimited, Inc. ($199,070) will increase the number and size of Eastern brook trout patches in the Shenandoah Valley, focusing on degraded and less than intact spring fed streams. They will also provide enhanced technical assistance to landowners on coldwater spring creeks in an effort to reduce the cost of repairing degraded streams.
  • James River Association ($400,000) will help communities understand the importance of, and make commitments to, reducing nutrient and sediment runoff from developed lands to improve water quality in local Virginia rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission ($49,533) will educate homeowners on practices they can implement in their backyard to benefit their local watershed through publication of a customized regional homeowners’ guide on stormwater management, septic maintenance, urban nutrient management and landscaping with native plants.
  • Valley Conservation Council, Inc. ($170,000) will target acquisition of whole-farm conservation easements on Shenandoah Valley farms with Best Management Practices such as livestock stream exclusion and riparian forested buffers, to improve water quality and native eastern brook trout habitat.
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc. ($150,000) will conduct whole-community watershed restoration, education, and conservation activities that will improve the quantity of and awareness about green infrastructure practices in the Broad Rock neighborhood, located in an impoverished and under-served area of urban Southside Richmond, Virginia.
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc. ($200,000) will implement a multi-faceted program to foster the creation and restoration of native oyster species and oyster reef ecosystems in Lafayette Creek.

Since 2006, the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Program has provided $40 million to 94 projects that reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Since 1999, the Small Watershed Grants Program has provided more than $34.2 million to support 704 projects in the region and has further leveraged close to $115.1 million in local matching funds for a total conservation investment in on-the-ground restoration of over $189.3 million. For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program and the Chesapeake Bay Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, visit www.nfwf.org/chesapeake.