Governor McAuliffe Celebrates Improving Water Quality and Land Conservation
WOODBRIDGE – Governor Terry McAuliffe highlighted Virginia’s successes in land conservation and water quality today at Leesylvania State Park in Prince William County. The event honored the many partners behind the Potomac Heritage Trail and the under-construction living shorelines at the park.
“Investing in Virginia’s natural resources is critical to ensuring future generations can enjoy the same fresh air, clean parks, and clear waters that we have today,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at today’s event. “Since 1980, Virginia has spent hundreds of millions of dollars improving our water quality and my administration is bolstering this commitment. We have directed $30 million for land conservation and over $84 million for agricultural best management practices and technical assistance in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Every dollar we spend is an investment in this $1.1 trillion dollar economic asset and the results are plain to see: increased blue crab abundance, improved habitat, and a healthier bay for all to enjoy.”
The living shorelines erosion control project is the product of collaboration between the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Leesylvania State Park, Prince William County, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Dominion Power. Additional partners include Virginiaforever, Virginia Association for Parks, Friends of Leesylvania State Park, the College of William and Mary, local and regional leaders, the Living National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Prince William Conservation Alliance and the National Park Service.
“Virginia’s government and citizens share a commitment to water quality and the Chesapeake Bay. It’s great to see the diverse set of partners united behind living shorelines and other crucial projects. We couldn’t have come so far so fast were it not for the generosity and support of the Chesapeake Bay community,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward.
“Leesylvania State Park’s living shoreline will protect and stabilize this portion of the Potomac riverbank and support a thriving natural community,” said DCR Director Clyde Cristman. “This project encompasses everything we are working to do: protect the bay, restore habitat, improve recreational access to the Potomac River, and increase the quality of life for everyone and everything living on the bay.”
Living shorelines serve as a protective fringe between aquatic areas and uplands, controlling erosion and providing habitat critical for wildlife. The Leesylvania project was designed by scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Service and is expected to restore about 800 feet of critical Chesapeake Bay shoreline.
In addition to its direct environmental impact, this project will increase public awareness about living shorelines and demonstrate their considerable benefits to a large audience. Leesylvania State Park is home to one of Northern Virginia’s only public beaches and attracts more than 500,000 visitors annually.