Ken Plum: The Nature of Virginia

Ken Plum/File photoGovernor-elect Terry McAuliffe hit the ground running when the day after his election he announced his transition team and a webpage at which he solicits ideas and suggestions and invites resumes from those who want to work in his administration.

His approach of assembling a bipartisan transitional team, moving quickly and seeking input are crucial for Virginia at an important transitional time. Last week, I talked about many of the issues like Medicaid expansion that were debated during the campaign and need immediate attention. There are many other issues that do not get as bright a spotlight but deserve serious attention. One is the natural landscape of Virginia and the quality of its air and water.

More than a month ago, VIRGINIAforever, a coalition of concerned businesses, environmental organizations and outdoor enthusiasts, presented to the gubernatorial candidates a five-year plan, “Investing in the Commonwealth’s Land and Water.”  As the report points out, Virginia’s population has doubled in the last 50 years putting great stress on our land and water.

The Commonwealth has a constitutional requirement unique among the states “to protect its atmosphere, lands and water from pollution, impairment, or destruction, for the benefit, enjoyment and general welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.” Virginia currently spends just over one percent of its budget on land conservation and water quality improvements. As the title of the report suggests, it will be necessary to “invest” more greatly if the goals of the report are to be met. But investing also suggests that there is an expected return.

Part of the changing landscape of Virginia is the loss of farmland. Since 1997 nearly 150,000 acres of farmland have been converted to other uses. A drive through the Shenandoah Valley can provide immediate visual evidence of the change. While the new use is justified in economic terms, it needs to be recognized that farming and forestry has nearly a $100 billion impact on Virginia’s economy.

The report calls for Virginia to protect 120,000 acres of farmland over the next five years through the use of tax credits. And, in order to meet the growing demand for state parks at a recommended level of 10 acres of park per 1,000 Virginians it will be necessary to conserve an additional 18,000 acres by 2020.

Only about one-third of Virginia’s 52,255 miles of rivers have been assessed for impairment, and of those assessed waters 71 percent are impaired for one or more uses as are over 80 percent of Virginia’s lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, according to the VIRGINIAforever report.

One of the most important statements in the report is that “concerns about cleaning up our polluted waters often fall back on predictions of negative consequences for the economy. Experience has not just disproven the concern that environmental restoration threatens economic prosperity, it has demonstrated just the opposite—economies cannot thrive in a world of depleted and degraded natural resources, and in fact, innovation, investment, and competition have spurred job growth in new sectors just when traditional sectors were faltering.”

The nature of Virginia must be a priority of the new administration!

Ken Plum (D-36th) represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. He writes a weekly column for Reston now. He can be reached at [email protected].

Recent Stories

Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479. There are so many fun things…

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better. November — a month containing both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving…

The annual exhibit returns to Reston in early December (courtesy RCC) Reston Community Center will host its 24th annual gifts and shopping exhibit in early December. The Gifts from the…

Curative will operate COVID-19 testing mobile labs at six sites in Fairfax County (courtesy Fairfax County Health Department) Curative is set to shut down all of its public COVID-19 testing…

The Ravel Dance Studio will re-open for fall classes 2020. The school will offer in person and virtual online instruction. With over 5000 sq. ft. to social distance the school has added air ionization filtration systems, ballet barres, acrylic dividers, hands free bathrooms, strict monitoring and more.

The Ravel Dance Studio will produce a Nutcracker Ballet Hollywood style video through the Reston Community CenterStage. REGISTRATION online begins August 17.

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many. He embodies grace, positivity and motivation in ways that no one else can. If we could all learn a thing or two from him, the world would be a much better place. He does so much for others, and does so with a smile on his face 99% of the time.

He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy. CG is no longer able to work and do what he loves for the time being because of this and we’d love your support.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list