Grant for water quality improvement efforts

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will aid water quality efforts in several localities within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

On Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam announced the $850,000 grant for a regional multi-state proposal that is being led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Virginia Department of Forestry and the Virginia Cooperative Extension along with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts will lead efforts in the Shenandoah Valley through riparian forest buffers and other livestock stream exclusion practices.

“Responsible stewardship of land and protecting our natural resources, especially the water quality of our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, is more important today than it has ever been,” said Northam. “My administration remains focused on making sure that Virginia continues to play a leadership role in meeting these objectives.”

Landowners and farmers will be encouraged to participate in existing restoration programs, such as using flexible fencing, solar-powered and temporary watering systems, multi-species buffers, natural forest regeneration, silvopasture, and other financial incentives.

This aims to drive the restoration of forested buffers and livestock stream exclusions, which are important measures to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution in the waterways.

Virginia has provided matching support for the project, called the Mountains to Bay Grazing Alliance, funded by a settlement with DuPont.

In part, that settlement included $42 million for natural resource restoration projects like ones to improve water quality and fish habitat.

More than $5 million has been dedicated to stream fencing projects to keep livestock from streams and rivers and manure management structures that improve water quality.

The VDOF will get $110,000 in funding from the grant, which will be matched by funding from the settlement, to provide 50 acres of forested buffers.

The VCE is also getting $53,572 for innovative practices like solar-powered temporary livestock watering systems.

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