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Nature Watch

April 2014: Virginia Oyster Plan Approved

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) has approved the 2014 Oyster Replenishment Plan, the state’s overall strategy for oyster management. The plan includes new reef restoration in the Piankatank River that VMRC will undertake with funding and project supervision from The Nature Conservancy.

More than 20 acres of oyster reef will be constructed west of Fishing Bay, just upstream from the Chesapeake Bay. The project’s incorporation into Virginia’s plan is a testament to the strength of the partnership comprised of the Conservancy, VMRC, NOAA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Allegheny Highlands Restoration Project Launched

In western Virginia, the Conservancy’s Allegheny Highlands team is engaged in the Lower Cowpasture Restoration Project, a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service covering 118,000 acres.

This project is the first to be implemented under the George Washington National Forest's newly revised (though not quite finalized) land and resource management plan, which emphasizes restoring healthy forests and streams.

Starting last spring, a series of workshops and field trips has enabled the public to explore restoration activities, forest management and recreation opportunities within the watersheds of the Cowpasture, Calfpasture and Jackson rivers.

In addition to helping foster dialog among diverse interest groups, the Conservancy is completing natural-area assessments to guide new restoration priorities and strategies. 

March 2014: New Farm Bill Cultivates Conservation

On February 7, 2014, President Obama signed into law a new five-year Farm Bill. Representing a huge victory for conservation on private lands here in Virginia and across the nation, the Farm Bill had cleared Congress three days earlier with rare bi-partisan support.

The Nature Conservancy helped influence numerous positive results, including these highlights:

  • $58 billion for conservation programs over the next 10 years — by far America’s largest investment in our environment.
  • National forest management for specified conservation purposes (stewardship contracting) received permanent authorization — a high priority for the Conservancy.
  • The new Regional Conservation Partnership Program will help direct resources toward places that will produce the greatest environmental benefits.

The latter presents a real opportunity for targeted investments in key lands and waters feeding into the Chesapeake Bay.

Having strongly supported these measures, we’re now working hard to ensure their efficient, effective implementation on the ground.

Mapping the Mid-Atlantic Ocean

The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia-led marine team recently completed the first comprehensive maps of recreational activities in the Mid-Atlantic Seascape.

These new maps will augment the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal (MARCO). This online app helps guide ocean-management decisions to better protect our region’s seascape, which stretches from Cape Hatteras to Montauk Point.

Multiplying Your Support

Donations to the Conservancy don’t just add up — they also multiply! Thanks to support from people like you, we’ve recently matched several challenge grants and pledges that will enable us to make a real difference in our most important lands and waters.

  • We will complete the protection of our Warm Springs Mountain Preserve in western Virginia and enhance the visitor experience on our most popular trail.
  • In conjunction with the largest-ever oyster restoration effort for the Chesapeake Bay, we are preparing to greatly increase restored oyster reefs in the Piankatank River.

For information on challenge opportunities, email Director of Philanthropy Catherine Holley.

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